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Position battleground (defense): Cowboys vs. Lions head-to-head breakdown for defensive positions

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

NFL: NOV 17 Cowboys at Lions Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Previously we broke down the offense for this week’s upcoming game for the Dallas Cowboys, now we dive back into the position battleground, this time looking at how the defensive positions and special teams stack up against each other.


This one is a lot easier to breakdown than the offensive side of the positional head-to-heads. The Detroit Lions are giving up the most yards to the opposition in the NFL. They are also last in points allowed, and rush yards allowed per game. And all that starts, as it does with any defense, with the defensive line. The Lions knew of the line issues and tried to repair these problems in the NFL Draft by taking Michigan hero Aidan Hutchinson, and Kentucky’s defensive end Josh Paschal. The defensive line has underwhelmed so far, but injuries haven’t helped. With players like Levi Onwuzurike, John Cominsky, the aforementioned Josh Paschal on long-term injuries. And now Charles Harris may miss this weeks game with a groin injury. The biggest problem for the Lions defense is finding an identity; it just doesn’t have one. This defensive line is leaking bad and allowing an average of 167 rush yards per game, which ranks last, and it’s not even close.

For Dallas, this defensive line is on fire at all positions. Dorance Armstrong is having a career season, Chauncey Golston got into the sack action last week, DeMarcus Lawrence is showing how game changing he can be, and there’s Osa Odighizuwa making his mark. These defensive lines are light years apart.

Win: Cowboys

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


Anzalone/Rodriguez/Board vs Parsons/Vander Esch/Barr

Micah Parsons! That’s all that needs to be said. Sure he had a quieter game last week as the Philadelphia Eagles did a lot to try to keep him out the game with RPO plays and misdirection. But even with all the focus on Parsons, he still got three pressures, seven tackles, a tackle for loss and two passes defensed. Leighton Vander Esch had another good day, with seven tackles and a tackle for loss.

Over at Detroit, the linebackers account for one sack for the team. Malcolm Rodriguez along with Alex Anzalone both have 26 tackles each. They do what they can to help plug the leak, but these linebackers get stuck filling holes which reduces their overall game.

Win: Cowboys

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


Malik Hooker definitely needs some more love, and he’s looking more and more like the first-round potential he once had with each snap he takes, and now he’s only three tackles behind Donovan Wilson. And Donovan Wilson is continuing his monster season, a dominating box safety in the making, leading the team in tackles. Jayron Kearse is nice to have back out there, and his five tackles last week, along with good coverage skills, helped keep Dallas Goedert to his quietest game this season so far.

Over at Detroit they have cornerback Jeffrey Okudah, once called the prospect of the decade. He allows around three-quarters of his targets to turn into a reception. And also corner Amani Oruwariye, who’s allowed a team high two touchdowns. Safety DeShon Elliott is having a decent season and leads the defensive backs in tackles. But no matter how much you try to compare the Lions defensive backs to the Cowboys, the depth and talent at Dallas is far superior to the Detroit’s.

Win: Cowboys

Washington Commanders v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images


Austin Seibert ranked last in field goal percentage, then after dealing with a leg injury, the Lions decide to waive him. After that they had a kicker for one game, and then the Lions picked up Michael Badgley, quite the carousel. Badgley so far is 4/4 on field goals, but let’s be fair, he’s no Brett Maher. And yes, Maher did miss a kick last week, but it was over fifty yards and only his second miss this season. Brian Anger is out punting Detroit’s punter Jack Fox, both in yards and kicks inside the twenty. On kick returns, KaVontae Turpin is nearly doubling his Detroit counterpart. This one’s an easy win for Dallas.

Win: Cowboys


Which team has the better defense?

This poll is closed

  • 97%
    Dallas Cowboys
    (328 votes)
  • 2%
    Detroit Lions
    (8 votes)
336 votes total Vote Now

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