The keys to the Lions offense will be in the hands of former sixth-round draft pick, Jeff Driskel, on Sunday.
Getting a foothold in the NFL took some time. He was cut by San Francisco in September 2016 and claimed by Cincinnati. He missed almost all of 2017 and then replaced Andy Dalton after Dalton was injured in November 2018. Starting five games, Driskel went 1-4 with 1,003 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.
Cincinnati cut him in September. Detroit signed him a week later and less than two months after that, he had to be the guy to replace the guy again -- this time filling in for an injured Stafford against the Chicago Bears.
Speaking of backup quarterbacks who will now play a huge role in Sunday’s game...
Former Lions quarterbacks Moore, Kitna guiding high-powered Cowboys attack - Matt Schoch, The Detroit News
It’s a little odd that the success of this current Cowboys team rests in the hands of several former Detroit Lions.
Detroit Lions football in this century is not exactly known for its excellence. But coach Jason Garrett and the Dallas Cowboys apparently liked some things from what they saw. The coach of the iconic Cowboys have mined the last couple decades of Lions’ lore for coaching acumen, as his staff is littered with Detroit dignitaries.
There’s defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who coached the Lions for three infamous seasons, which were helmed by quarterback Jon Kitna, now quarterbacks coach in Dallas. There’s also former Lions backup quarterback Kellen Moore, a rising offensive coordinator under Garrett, along with Kyle Valero, who served as an offensive assistant under Jim Schwartz and now helps with wide receivers in Dallas.
15 notes: Why was Travis Frederick so angry? Cowboys share thoughts on outside criticism - Jon Machota, The Athletic
Machota provides his weekly notes, including a nugget about Kellen Moore. While the young offensive coordinator has had a big influence over this no. 1 ranked offense in yards, his decision making came into question last week against the Vikings.
10.) Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore on third down late in the game last Sunday.
Despite all the success the Cowboys found through the air, and the great struggles they had all night on the ground, Dallas ran the ball on second-and-2 and third-and-2 in the final minutes while trying to score a go-ahead touchdown. Ezekiel Elliott was stopped for no gain on the first play. He was dropped for a three-yard loss on the next play.
“Yeah, obviously threw the ball on first down, really just trying in a second-and-2 situation potentially trying to get a first down there and then play it out as it goes,” Moore explained this week. “Obviously you can drive yourself crazy going through that process again and again. It didn’t work out.” Was the goal to run more clock, not wanting to score too early and give Minnesota a chance to answer? “It’s there’s a first down right in your face,” Moore said. “Try and get that first down and then let’s score the touchdown as we go. If it happens, it happens. We just weren’t able to do it.”
All eyes will be on the Cowboys offense to see if they can get into a rhythm early and avoid all this nonsensical close-game theatrics.
For Dallas, they’ll be down one offensive lineman and it just so happens to be their weakest one:
ESPN identifies some things to watch Sunday at Ford Field, including a hit or miss rushing attack by the Cowboys.
FEAST OR FAMINE
Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott had five 100-yard rushing games in his first eight games for the first time in his career. However, Elliott has been held to four of the nine lowest rushing totals in his career when he hasn’t run for 100 yards. The two-time rushing champion struggled in the 28-24 loss last week to Minnesota. His longest carry was 6 yards, and he was limited to 47 yards on 20 carries. A chance to win escaped when Dallas went to Elliott three straight times inside the Minnesota 15 late in the game. He had two rushes that for a combined minus-3 yards before he was the target on an incomplete pass on fourth down. “Take it with that chip on your shoulder and use it as fuel when you go back to work the next week,” he said.
Film room: Cowboys-Lions mismatches, including a possible season-best matchup for DeMarcus Lawrence - John Owning, Dallas Morning News
Owning’s weekly film review is a must watch for anyone wanting some great insight into this week’s matchup against the Lions.
LDE DeMarcus Lawrence vs. RT Rick Wagner OR Tyrell Crosby
Although the Lions don’t run the ball a lot, Lawrence’s advantage as a run defender may be even greater than as a pass rusher. Lawrence has been magnificent against the run in recent weeks, both as a backside pursuit defender and at the point of attack, which should continue against Detroit as both Crosby and Wagner struggle against the upper-echelon run defenders, which Lawrence definitely is.
Overall, this may be Lawrence’s best matchup of the year, facing a team that passes a lot and has inferior talent at right tackle. Lawrence will undoubtedly see a steady diet of chips and double-teams as he has almost every week, but given the frequency at which Detroit airs it out, he should see his fair share of one-on-one pass-rush opportunities, which could mean another dominant performance by the best player on the Cowboys’ defense.
The Cowboys have the advantage in a lot of areas this week.
Cowboys pass offense vs. Lions pass defense
While the Lions’ defensive focus will be on Elliott, they can’t ignore Dak Prescott and the NFL’s No. 3 passing attack. Prescott is having his best season as a pro with ex-Lions quarterback Kellen Moore calling plays, and he has two legitimate weapons at wide receiver in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Prescott is averaging a career-best 8.7 yards per attempt, but he has been turnover-prone this season with nine interceptions and two fumbles. Both Gallup and Cooper average better than 16 yards a catch, Elliott is dangerous underneath out of the backfield, and Prescott is usually the beneficiary of good protection from the Cowboys’ star-studded line. The Lions rank 28th in the NFL against the pass, struggle to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks and give up too many chunk plays; just three teams have allowed more passes of 20-plus yards this season. Darius Slay should draw the assignment on Cooper, but the Lions are severely short-handed at safety with Tracy Walker out and Will Harris questionable with a groin injury.
Both of the Lions coordinators spoke to the media last week and offered up 10 takeaways, including a very potent Cowboys offense they’ll be facing.
6. The Lions have faced some pretty good quarterback, running back & wide receiver trios this year, but Sunday will rank right up there with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper and the Cowboys’ No. 1 ranked offense. Prescott aims for his third game in row with three-plus touchdown passes and a fourth in a row with a 100-plus passer rating. Elliott’s had 120-plus scrimmage yards in six of his past seven games on the road. Since joining Dallas in Week 9 of 2018, Cooper leads the NFL with 13 touchdown receptions and ranks fourth in receiving yards (1,573).
Who is the most dangerous Dallas Cowboys player to the Detroit Lions? - Jeremy Reisman, Pride Of Detroit
Reisman also offers up his pick as the Cowboys player who is the biggest threat to this Lions team.
Which Cowboys player poses the biggest threat to the Lions?
My answer: There are a ton of possible answers. A guy like DeMarcus Lawrence is capable of rattling backup quarterback Jeff Driskel all on his own. Ezekiel Elliott is a pretty good candidate to rush for at least 100 yards against Detroit’s struggling defenses. Amari Cooper is the kind of guy that could give a talented corner like Darius Slay some trouble and Slay would be the first to admit it.
But sometimes the right answer is the simplest. The Lions can’t stop any quarterback right now and Dak Prescott is having a career year. With a ton of decent receiving options in Dallas, Prescott should have no problem finding a myriad of open pass-catchers, especially with the time his offensive line will like create for him against a weak pass rush.
The staff over at the Mothership is feeling pretty confident about this one as each of them provide their weekly prediction.
Nick Eatman: On one hand, you would think I would learn my lesson by now. On the other, picking the Cowboys to win impressively would classify as learning my lesson. This team is so up and down, that it also seems appropriate for them to have another big game like this. And it doesn’t hurt the Lions are against playing their backup QB and third-string RB. Or maybe it does hurt? The Cowboys couldn’t take advantage of Brees, Adams and Thielen being out. Still, I think the Cowboys are due for a big game and a big win. The defense will get three turnovers and will score a touchdown, while Zeke will rip off the longest run of the season – let’s say over 40 yards – to squash that narrative that he can’t have a big play. More success for Michael Gallup and let’s put Jason Witten into the end zone again. Give me the Cowboys in a comfortable 31-13 win.
Expert predictions for Cowboys-Lions: Will Dallas prevail in a game it can’t afford to lose? - Staff, Dallas Morning News
The staff over at DMN offer up their game predictions for Sunday.
The Cowboys under Jason Garrett play their best when their backs are against the wall, and that’s the situation they find themselves in at 5-4 with tougher opponents on the horizon. It shouldn’t matter whether Lions QB Matthew Stafford plays or sits, Dallas is the more desperate team. If the Cowboys somehow lose this one, it will be time to freshen up the watch lists for the next head coach.
Cowboys 30, Lions 17.
Detroit Lions vs. Dallas Cowboys Week 11 preview, prediction: On Paper - Jeremy Reisman, Pride Of Detroit
Our sister site Pride of Detroit swallows their pride and makes their weekly prediction for the Cowboys game.
This week’s prediction: The Cowboys come out with a significant +6.5 advantage. Even worse, I’m giving them the advantage in all four matchups this week. That’s how big of a difference in talent there is in these two teams right now. Of course, the absence of Matthew Stafford is at least a two or three-point swing in this game. Unfortunately for Detroit, the only few holes this Cowboys team has (run defense) match up perfectly with the worst aspects of this Lions team (run offense).
Even worse, this Cowboys offense is arguably the best the Lions will face all year, and they happen to be catching them as Detroit’s defense is falling apart. The only way the Lions come out victorious this week is if Driskel takes a big step from last week and Detroit’s defensive line takes advantage of a beat-up Cowboys offensive line. I just don’t see those both happening.
Hopefully, you are in the red this week as 506sports provides their weekly TV coverage map for all the nationally televised games.