Lions-Cowboys Preview: A Deep Dive Into Dallas

Jarrad Davis Ezekiel Elliott

Getty Ezekiel Elliott runs away from Jarrad Davis.

The Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys have made a habit of getting together the last few years on the field. Finally, though, Dallas will have to make the long trek to the Motor City in order to tangle with the team.

In years past, the Lions and Cowboys have met in Texas, but this time around, Detroit gets their first home crack at Dallas since 2013. The Cowboys, while they have struggled, will be trying to get back into the conversation with a big win, while the Lions need a similar performance to save their season.

So what is there to know about the opposition? Here’s a look at the challenge Dallas will provide this week.

Cowboys Player To Watch – Ezekiel Elliott, RB

Detroit has been allergic to stopping the run all season long, and their defense has been pushed around in the trenches. Last season, Elliott had a big game against the Lions, so one might expect him to be able to have a similarly dominant performance again in this game. The Lions have to step up and find a way to shut him down on the ground and through the air. Elliott caught a huge catch late in order to set the Cowboys up for their narrow win last year. He’s done a ton to burn the Lions so the team has to be ready for all he can present, even if he’s having a down year by his own lofty standards.

Cowboys Key Personnel Group – Wide Receiver

Detroit’s had plenty of defensive problems on the ground this year, but the Cowboys offer some major problems through the air as well. With Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb, the big play elements are there. Michael Gallup can also deliver some big plays down the field, and naturally, Blake Jarwin and Jason Witten can open things up at tight end. There’s enough pass catching threats to make a shoddy Detroit secondary look bad on the afternoon. The Lions will have to find a way to limit this group, because they could very obviously dictate the way the game might go.

Cowboys Biggest Name Missing – Connor Williams, OL

The Cowboys typically have a solid offensive front, but this week, Williams will be missing with injury and that will be a big loss for the team this week. Detroit’s defensive line has underperformed this season, but they have some obvious talent that needs to get going. Losing any player is a huge blow at this point of the season, and on a week the Lions need to be good in the trenches, it’s not good news for Dallas to be down an offensive lineman. Williams will be a big loss this week.

Can They Defend

Decently. The Cowboys have allowed a ton of yards this season (2,909), has given up 219 yards per-game total in the passing game. They allowed big games from Minnesota players last week, and are a 0 in the turnover differential, just like Detroit. The Cowboys defense this season is pretty average on the whole, which would be good news for the Lions if they knew they’d have their starting quarterback.

Headset Heads Up

Not long ago, Kellen Moore was on the opposite sidelines in Detroit at Ford Field as the team’s third string quarterback behind Matthew Stafford. This week, Moore will get to match wits with the Lions as a play caller for the first time. It will be fascinating to see if he can give Matt Patricia’s defense the works, or if Patricia has enough tricks to outwit Jason Garrett’s young play caller. It’s arguably the matchup of the game.

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