The Dallas Cowboys jumped out of the gates against the Detroit Lions with cement in their cleats. Every play looked slow and challenging to execute. Fortunately, Dallas looked like a new team in the second half. The offense led by Dak Prescott was starting to click, and the Dallas defense shut out the Lions for the rest of the game.
Here is the roster power ranking heading into Week 8 against the Chicago Bears
10. CeeDee Lamb, WR
Lamb’s numbers should be expected to go up with Prescott back at quarterback. No. 4 struggled in the first half to push the ball downfield, but whenever he needed to establish a rhythm, he went to his No. 1 guy.
Lamb finished the night with four receptions for 70 yards and averaged over 17 yards a catch. On Monday, Kellen Moore talked about how he needs to get Michael Gallup more involved in the offensive game plan. Lamb needs the same love.
9. Dak Prescott, QB
Prescott looked like a quarterback who hasn’t played football since September 11th—and that’s okay. The expectation that No. 4 wouldn’t have any rust after not throwing a football for over a month would have been an oversight.
Prescott finished the game 19 of 25 for 207 yards, one touchdown, and a 76% completion percentage. Tua Tagovailoa also returned from injury this week for Sunday Night Football and finished 21 of 35 for 261 yards, one touchdown, completing 60% of his passes. Tagovailoa has better receivers in Miami and performed similarly.
Prescott didn’t do anything to hurt the Cowboys chances of winning and did just enough to improve the offense. Until he finds his groove again, that’s all we can ask for.
8. KaVontae Turpin, KR/WR
Before Sunday’s game, I ordered lunch from Five Guys near my house. While waiting for the order, I looked down at my receipt and saw that I was order No. 9. It was almost like someone was sending a sign that Turpin would be a factor once again.
It turned out the sign was right. Turpin continues to be a force in the return game and one of the NFL’s best at that position, if not the best. His 52-yard return was extremely close to being broken for a touchdown, like his kickoff return against the Eagles.
Turpin should make a few house calls this season if a few more blocks go his way on these returns. He can quite literally flip the field.
7. Demarcus Lawrence, DE
The Lions averaged 4.7 yards per attempt in the run game on Sunday. Most of their big plays went away from Lawrence’s side. Just like against the Eagles, Tank is sound in his technique as a run defender. If No. 90 gets pushed out of his gap assignment, he has the recovery speed to make up for it.
There was a play when Jared Goff rolled out to his right trying to run for a first down, and Lawrence pulled to the sideline in front of Goff while Micah Parsons came barreling down behind the Lions quarterback. Lawrence stayed in position and forced Goff to make a move which slowed him down enough for Parsons to tackle him from behind.
His instincts continue to be off the charts, and he even had the forced fumble on the goal line, killing any momentum for the Lions offense in the second half. At one point, Lawrence was also getting triple-teamed by the Detroit offense.
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6. Trevon Diggs, CB
When the Lions started the second half with the ball and moved down the field, someone on the Dallas defense had to step up and make a play. Of course, it was going to be Diggs. His interception changed the feel of the game on both sides of the ball for Dallas.
At the end of the first half, the Cowboys were marching down the field looking to score when Noah Brown was upended and fumbled the ball. Diggs’ interception gave Prescott and the offense another chance to score and establish a rhythm. They went down to score and made it a 10-6 game. Diggs continues to be one of the best corners in the game and might be on his way to having an all-around better season than 2021.
5. Zack Martin, OG
Whenever one or two members of the offensive line appear on this list, think of it as all five positions getting the love in one spot. Last week, it was Tyler Smith and Terence Steele, and this week it’s Zack Martin.
The All-Pro guard continues to be a top-three player for his position. Not only was Prescott protected in the pocket, but Martin was creating enormous gaps for Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott on the right side of the line.
It’s no coincidence that Elliott and Pollard’s longest runs came on the right side, and Elliott scored his first touchdown going right behind Martin.
4. Ezekiel Elliott, RB
Elliott was No. 1 on the list last time, and he doesn’t leave the top five for the second week in a row. He should be given credit for returning after taking the shot to his knee/thigh area. I thought his season would be over as soon as he went down.
Instead, he came back after halftime and hurdled a defender to break off his longest run of the day. Elliott muscled his way to 57 yards and two touchdowns on the day. The long-term health of this team is essential to McCarthy for what he believes to be a 20-game season. Elliott will get his fair share, but McCarthy wants him to be healthy come playoffs when he is needed most.
3. Tony Pollard, RB
Tony Pollard is a smooth runner. Every time he breaks through tackles, the top half of his body stays centered while his legs do all the work. Pollard has some of the best balance I’ve seen in a running back, and he showed it off against the Lions.
Not only did he have 12 carries for 83 yards, but had a critical catch for 20 yards in the fourth quarter. Go back and watch the tape with 12:18 left in the fourth, and it’s the first play on offense after the fumble recovered by Anthony Barr.
Prescott throws it to Pollard in the flat with defenders trying to get a pick-six. As soon as he catches it, Pollard runs up the right sideline and gives the offense a first down and some breathing room to work with. What Prescott didn’t see was Pollard’s head was turned in the opposite direction, and he just stuck his hands out for the ball to be placed in the perfect spot.
While they didn’t score on that drive, the play can be the difference between a win or loss in the playoffs. Trusting Pollard to always be in the right place at the right time will earn him more snaps, even at wide receiver.
2. Sam Williams, DE
During the pre-draft process, it almost seemed destiny for Williams to become a Cowboy. Dan Quinn went down to Ole Miss to work Williams out and raved about his potential. So far this season, Quinn has been proven to have an eye for talent.
Williams had himself a day against Detroit totaling two sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recover, and one body slam. According to Dallas Cowboys PR on Twitter, Williams is the first Cowboys rookie with that stat line since 1982. The last rookie defensive player to do it in the NFL was Nick Bosa in 2019. Not bad company to be associated with.
1. Micah Parsons, LB/DE
Parsons showed growth and maturation this week. Against the Eagles, Parsons was put in a difficult position to defend RPOs and assignments in the screen game. He became visibly frustrated, and it looked to affect the way he played.
Flash forward to Sunday, Parsons was caught rushing toward Goff when the opposing lineman pulled to block for a tight end screen. No. 11 immediately realized his mistake and made up for it. He sprinted almost 21 mph down the field to tackle the ball carrier short of the goal line.
That play became the play of the game because on the very next play was the Jamaal Williams fumble to give the Cowboys the ball back. Parsons is currently ranked first in the NFL in pressures with 36 and is tied for the league lead in sacks with seven. A few names should be circled for the Defensive Player of the Year conversation, but Parsons’ name should be on top of the list.