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Position battleground (offense): Cowboys vs. Lions head-to-head breakdown of offensive positions

A positional head-to-head breakdown of the Week 7 matchup between the Cowboys and Lions to find the strengths and weaknesses of each offensive position.

Dallas Cowboys v Detroit Lions Photo by Rob Leiter/Getty Images

After dropping a game to the Philadelphia Eagles, it’s onto the Detroit Lions for the Dallas Cowboys. The Lions are a team that spent Week 6 on a bye, and preparing to rejuvenate themselves after hitting a three-game losing streak. But what is interesting is the Lions aren’t all that bad. In their four losses this season, three of the games saw them lose by four points or less. But they did get shutout by New England, with team health being their worst enemy.

The Cowboys currently are on a four-game winning streak against the Lions, and in their last ten matchups, the Cowboys have won seven, which includes the 2014 Wild Card game.

So how does each offensive position on both teams fare in a head-to-head battle?

QUARTERBACK

Jared Goff vs Dak Prescott or Cooper Rush

So that turnover regression finally caught up with Cooper Rush. The good news is Dak Prescott is on the precipice of return. He was seen throwing pregame at Lincoln Financial Field, and a lot of talk this week about whether he can play. The final practice report, along with Mike McCarthy giving his press conference closer to the weekend, will let us know for sure who is playing under center this week. As of now, it seems like it will be Prescott. If that happens, obviously that changes everything for the Cowboys offense.

For Detroit, they have the 2016 first overall draft pick, Jared Goff. His time at the L.A. Rams was uninspiring, and so far at Detroit he’s continuing that trend. In 2021, Goff threw his fewest touchdowns in a season, and so far he’s thrown eleven times for a score, but his interception rate is pretty bad. In his first five games this season, he’s thrown an interception in four of those games, and has a interception rate of 2.2% - that’s 18th in the QB rankings. Goff also currently boasts a 59% completion percentage, that ranks 30th among 36 qualifying quarterbacks.

Win: Cowboys (unless Cooper Rush has to play)

Detroit Lions v New England Patriots Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

RUNNINGBACK

Swift/Williams vs Elliott/Pollard

As a team, the Detroit Lions are pretty effective in the run game. They rank second in yards per run attempt, at 5.4 yards per carry, and their 1.4 rushing touchdowns per game ranks third. The problem for the Lions right now is their leading running back, D’Andre Swift, has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury and his ability to play this week is up for debate. If he does go, the question will be how much Dan Campbell is willing to play his star back, and also how efficient Swift will be. In Swift’s wake, RB2 for Detroit is Jamaal Williams, and he hasn’t done a bad job. He averages 4.3 YPC, has six rushing touchdowns, which ranks second in the league. And so far on his 77 attempts he has yet to register a fumble.

Last week Ezekiel Elliott had himself quite a day, going for 81 yards and a touchdown. But what’s more impressive was his 6.2 YPC, which was the most among starting running backs in Week 6. And to go with that, his six first downs and three explosive plays on the ground, were third most last week by a running back. Tony Pollard was less effective last week, but when you have Zeke on a roll why change anything. But there in lays the beauty of the Cowboys backfield. If Zeke isn’t having a big game, then it’s Pollard getting the production.

With questions on Swift availability, the Cowboys double act wins.

Win: Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

WIDE RECEIVERS

Brown/Reynolds/Chark vs Lamb/Gallup/Brown

Amon St. Brown is one of those sneaky good receivers, and sits in the same WR1 conversation as CeeDee Lamb. He’s one of three brothers that all play wide receiver, with Equanimeous St. Brown playing for Chicago Bears, and youngest brother Osiris St. Brown playing at Stanford. St. Brown was hobbled in the last Lions game against the Patriots after coming off an ankle injury, but the bye week helps his recovery to get back into action. For this Lions offense, St. Brown really is the driving force to keep them on schedule, doing most of his work from the slot, but has the ability to play on the outside too. Be watchful of his good releases and strong hands, tied in with a great ability to find the soft spots in coverage and get open on scramble plays. If you’re a Texas A&M fan, then you will know Josh Reynolds, who has been playing pretty well, even with St. Brown out. He leads the team in receiving yards, and plays the deep threat receiver, doing it from the slot or out wide. And finishing off the group is D.J. Chark; he missed two games with an ankle injury.

CeeDee Lamb played his part last week in helping the offense. He still has yet to go over 100 yards in a game this year, and it’s been nearly a full season since the last time that happened. Michael Gallup is coming along from his injury nicely and should start seeing more production. He didn’t get a first down last week, but his deep threat ability is useful on this offense to help pull safeties back. Noah Brown seems to have cooled rather quickly, he now has totaled five receptions in the last three games. But the Cowboys wide receiver corps is playing with better health, and with Dak coming back soon, the pass catchers will enjoy a more efficient passing game.

Win: Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

TIGHT END

T.J. Hockenson vs Dalton Schultz

The Cowboys offense, with Cooper Rush behind the wheel, has issues maintaining their drives and finding a way to walk the ball to the endzone. One bright spot on the offense last week was the tight end position. Sure, Dalton Schultz will always be the lead tight end at Dallas, but a lot of people watched what Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot did last week and raised an eyebrow in Schultz’s direction.

But be sure, the tight ends at Dallas all look at T.J. Hockenson and admire what he’s been doing in Detroit. He ranks seventh in receiving yards among tight ends and third in touchdowns. But it’s the yards after catch he can create, in which he ranks fifth. A very solid tight end, one of the best, and this is only his fourth year in the NFL.

Win: Lions

Buffalo Bills v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

OFFENSIVE LINE

This maybe the closest competition between the groups on offense. The Cowboys offensive line is playing beyond expectations. The Cowboys line right now is allowing 1.5 sacks per game, that’s the third best in the NFL, where the Lions allow 1.4, that’s second. The Dallas line has allowed 59 pressures so far, the Lions have allowed 61. In terms of run blocking, watching back some of Detroit’s games, they are doing a slightly better job, with Oregon superstar Penei Sewell being the leading factor for them. The Cowboys offensive line did do a good job last week helping make space for Zeke. Let’s see some more physicality in gap power from the Cowboys line and reevaluate this one again.

Win: Push

Poll

Which team has the better offense?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    Dallas Cowboys
    (415 votes)
  • 17%
    Detroit Lions
    (90 votes)
505 votes total Vote Now

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