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Position battleground (offense): Cowboys vs Lions head-to-head breakdown

Which offense do you feel is more efficient between the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions?

Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys come back home for a game against the Detroit Lions on Saturday night. Let’s break down both teams offenses and find out which is better by each position group.

QUARTERBACK
Dak Prescott
vs.
Jared Goff

Dak Prescott had his miscues last week and played his part in the failings that led to the loss. However, Dak still threw two touchdowns, and over 250 yards without an interception. The misses Dak made came as a result of him having to speed through his progressions due to poor blocking up front. The Miami Dolphins went all out last week to disrupt the play at the source and used blitzes to put Dak under tremendous pressure. As a result, Dak missed open receivers, failed to get the ball out quickly and most importantly, he allowed the fear of pressure to affect his game. Looking at this week’s game though, Cowboys fans can feel confident this game shouldn’t see the same occurrences. The Detroit Lions defense is allowing the tenth-most passing yards this year (sixth-most in the last three games). The Detroit defense is also allowing the sixth-most passing touchdowns and has accumulated the fifth-fewest sacks.

Jared Goff is having an interesting season. The Lions are having a big year and have won 11 games this year. Last week against the Minnesota Vikings, Goff made 40 pass attempts and threw for one touchdown. Goff currently ranks third in passing touchdowns and third in passing yards this year.

Conclusion:
Dak currently leads the NFL in passing touchdowns and has thrown three less interceptions than Goff. Dak is also third in the NFL in passer rating, with a rating of 104.2, while Goff has a rating of 98.3 which ranks seventh.
Win: Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys v Miami Dolphins Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

RUNNING BACK
Tony Pollard/Rico Dowdle
vs.
Jahmyr Gibbs/David Montgomery

The running backs for Dallas are frustrating to watch. One play it all goes to plan, the next they can’t even punch it in from a few yards out. Pollard now has 11 rush attempts from within the oppositions five-yard line, and has scored two touchdowns off those attempts, one of those came from the one-yard line. This is maybe the most telling statistic on how inconsistent the running backs are playing this year. You can find reason for Pollard and the running backs playing less in Buffalo, but against Miami the unit really proved how lacking it is in gap power. Pollard ran for 3.2 yards per carry, Dowdle was worse at two yards per carry, and Hunter Luepke had two attempts for three yards.

The running back position for the Lions has been one of the the main factors for the success this team has had this season. Gibbs and Montgomery combine for 20 rushing touchdowns and over 1,700 rush yards. Only Baltimore and Chicago have rushed as a team for more yards this year. The problem this creates for Dallas is the fact its run defense is a huge weakness, so this plays into Detroit’s strength. The Cowboys just faced Miami, that averages 5.0 yards per rush attempt, and now faces Detroit that is averaging 4.7 yards per attempt. Scary outlook.

Conclusion:
The Cowboys running backs continue to struggle and have totaled two touchdowns in the last four weeks. The Detroit running backs scored three touchdowns just in last week’s game alone.
Win: Lions

Detroit Lions v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

WIDE RECEIVERS
CeeDee Lamb/Brandin Cooks/Michael Gallup
vs.
Amon St. Brown/Jameson Williams/Josh Reynolds

It’s got to the point where not throwing to CeeDee Lamb on the play makes no sense. Last week against Miami, Lamb started off strong but for some reason he didn’t get targeted for a large portion of the game which made very little sense. Once the team started targeting him again, they found themselves moving back down field and into scoring position. Lamb is second in receiving yards, fourth in receiving touchdowns and second in first downs among wide receivers. When targeting Lamb, Dak has a passer rating of 123.0, that’s the fifth-highest rating among wide receivers. Cooks only caught two receptions last week, but one of them was the touchdown in the fourth quarter that got Dallas the lead.

Amon St. Brown is the key receiving threat for Detroit. He’s having a solid season and is fifth among wide receivers with 1,281 receiving yards. He’s also fifth in receiving touchdowns and more importantly, fifth in yards after the catch. Josh Reynolds has 551 yards and is third on the team in receiving, while Jameson Williams has struggled to make an impact this season. He’s eclipsed 50 yards receiving in a game only twice this year.

Conclusion:
Detroit have a formidable threat with St. Brown and a lot of attention from the Cowboys secondary will go his way. The same can be said with CeeDee Lamb for the Lions defense. One thing going Dallas’ way is the fact the defense is allowing the fifth-fewest passing yards per game, where Detroit is allowing the tenth-most.
Win: Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys v Miami Dolphins Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

TIGHT END
Jake Ferguson
vs.
Sam LaPorta

Ferguson is now “Mr. Reliable” when he gets the ball thrown his way. He’s a great safety valve for Dak, but he’s also very important on third down or in the case of last week’s game, fourth down. Ferguson now ranks ninth among tight ends in receiving yards and fourth in touchdowns. The Lions defense has allowed the eighth-most touchdowns to the tight end position and the 11th most yards.

Sam LaPorta is having a huge rookie season. It’s no surprise the young tight end is having a good season coming from Iowa, and his route running and reliable hands have stood out this year. The rookie standout is fifth among tight ends in both receptions and receiving yards, but he leads the position with nine touchdowns this year. The issue with LaPorta is in the form of blocking. He’s a big receiving option that ranks second on the team in receiving yards, but that’s due to his speed and burst. That means he has little power or play strength as a blocker, as such he gets handled pretty easy when used as an extra blocker. He’s way behind the grade as a blocker, but he’s a rookie and these things take time.

Conclusion:
Jake Ferguson has established himself on the offense and helped relieve any concern about the position for fans this year. He’s a much stronger and technically proficient blocker than LaPorta, but let’s not take away what LaPorta is doing this year. Both players are young and still developing, but it’s a close tie between these two players given Ferguson’s longer track record as apposed to LaPorta’s one-year wonder so far.
Win: Push

Detroit Lions v Minnesota Vikings Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

OFFENSIVE LINE

If there was any blame to be put on one single position group from last week’s loss, that has to go to the offensive line. If it wasn’t penalties bringing the team back on important plays, it was failing to establish consistent dominance in the run game and allowing constant pressure to break though and get to Dak. The line allowed four sacks last week and 17 pressures. How any offense can expect to establish itself and find a rhythm is almost impossible when it’s failing to contain that level of pass rush. In the last three games this Cowboys offensive line has allowed the third-most sacks and the run blocking has again started to struggle. The good news is the Lions defensive line has only produced 34 sacks this year, which is seventh-fewest, and the defensive line has allowed the sixth-most rushing touchdowns. Keep a watch on Tyron Smith on the practice report.

The Lions offensive line has been extremely efficient this year allowing the fifth-fewest sacks. It’s also proven to be one of the more proficient run blocking units this year. Penei Sewell has allowed only one sack this season but his run blocking has been some of the best in the league. Frank Ragnow hasn’t allowed a single sack this season and has also been good in run blocking. One tactic we are sure this offensive line will key on will be holding Micah Parsons. Penei Sewell, Frank Ragnow and Taylor all have questions on their availability for this weekend. From what’s reported Sewell has the highest chance of playing this weekend.
Win: Lions

Poll

Which team has the better offense?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Dallas Cowboys
    (107 votes)
  • 60%
    Detroit Lions
    (163 votes)
270 votes total Vote Now

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