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3 reasons why the Detroit Lions will lose to the Dallas Cowboys

Weaknesses from this week’s Cowboys opponent outlined by those who know them best.

Detroit Lions v New England Patriots Photo by Nick Grace/Getty Images

For just the second time this year, the Dallas Cowboys will look to dust themselves off after a loss and get back in the winning column. They were able to do this successfully five weeks ago when they hosted the Cincinnati Bengals, this week will offer a matchup against a different feline-themed mascot.

It is the Detroit Lions who will be on the wrong side of the field at AT&T Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The Lions have shown some spunk and energy to this point in the season, certainly more than their 1-4 record would indicate. Many football analysts and fans thought that the Lions would be a potential Wild Card contender this season during their second year under Dan Campbell, but their porous defense has made matters a bit difficult.

Earlier this week I spoke to Pride of Detroit’s Chris Perfett about the Lions’ season to this point on the latest episode of The Ocho on the Blogging The Boys podcast network. It was a fun conversation that provided a great 101 on who this Detroit team is. You can listen to it right above this paragraph or on the Blogging The Boys podcast network. Make sure to subscribe to our network wherever you get your podcast so you don’t miss any of our shows! Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.

Try as we might, whenever we talk about our teams we ultimately do so with a bit of a positive slant. One activity that we have started doing around here is “3 reasons why your team will lose” where we ask our friends at the opposing SB Nation site to outline potential reasons that their team will walk away with a loss in the given week.

Pride of Detroit’s Jeremy Reisman was kind enough to give us those three reasons this week. Remember the point of the exercise is to list some major weaknesses within the Lions that can be their undoing. I have done the same for him regarding the Cowboys so if you’d like you can check out Pride of Detroit to see those when they publish them.

Here are 3 reasons why the Detroit Lions will lose in Jeremy Reisman’s words.

Jared Goff is a bad quarterback under pressure

Like most quarterbacks, Jared Goff is much worse when under duress, but he tends to take that to an extreme. Here’s a look at his splits when pressured vs. not pressured (via PFF):

No pressure: 84-of-131 (64.1 comp. %), 968 yards (7.4 Y/A), 8 TDs, 2 INTs, 100.3 passer rating

Under pressure: 27-of-55 (49.1%), 387 yards (7.0 Y/A), 3 TDs, 2 INTs, 75.3 passer rating

The biggest problem for Goff is the turnovers. He has already produced three defensive touchdowns this season, and two of them were the direct result of pressure. This issue has followed Goff’s entire career.

The Lions have done a pretty decent job at protecting Goff this season, but the Cowboys pass rush is an entirely different animal than anything they’ve faced. Even in Detroit’s last game against the Patriots, we saw what a dynamic pass rusher like Matt Judon can do to screw up the Lions’ offensive attack. Despite the Lions’ strong duo of offensive tackles in Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell, Judon was a game wrecker with seven pressures, two sacks and a forced fumble on the way to shutting out Detroit’s offense that is averaging 35.0 points per game.

In other words, a guy like Micah Parsons has the capability of dismantling Detroit’s entire offensive game plan.

The defense doesn’t do anything well

Literally. Nothing.

Against the pass, they rank:

  • 29th in yards per attempt allowed (7.9)
  • 28th in passer rating allowed (100.8)
  • T-32 in sacks (7)
  • 31st in passes defended (15)
  • 32nd in DVOA

Against the run, they rank:

  • 30th in yards per attempt allowed (5.5)
  • 31st in rushing touchdowns allowed (10)
  • 31st in DVOA

In key situations:

  • 32nd in third-down conversion rate (50%)
  • 27th in red-zone touchdown rate (68.4%)

I can’t think of a better situation for Dak Prescott to ease his way into the game and prove why he’s clearly QB1 in Dallas.

Despite coming out of the bye week, Detroit has key players still injured

On offense, the Lions are trending towards missing these key players on offense:

  • Starting WR DJ Chark
  • Starting WR Josh Reynolds
  • Backup WR Quintez Cephus
  • First-round pick WR Jameson Williams
  • Starting RG Halapoulivaati Vaitai
  • Backup RG Tommy Kraemer
  • Primary reserve OT Matt Nelson

In addition to that, several key offensive players will be battling through injuries that have limited their effectiveness on the field, including star wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (ankle sprain), running back D’Andre Swift (ankle/shoulder), and Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow (turf toe).

The defensive situation is somehow even worse. Here’s a list of players unlikely to play this Sunday:

  • Starting EDGE Romeo Okwara
  • Starting EDGE Charles Harris
  • Second-round DT Levi Onwuzurike
  • Starting S Tracy Walker
  • Reserve CB Bobby Price
  • Reserve S Ifeatu Melfionwu

For a unit that was already short of talent, these string of injuries have left the Lions without a fighting chance on the defensive side of the ball.

In total, the Lions have 10 players on the injury reserve list, six players on the 53-man roster who haven’t practiced this week and an additional five who have been limited in practice. I will remind you again that this team is coming off a bye week.

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