Sunday marks the first Detroit Lions playoff game since 2011. They will be matching up against the Dallas Cowboys in the final Wild Card match this weekend.
In recent history, the Lions have had a couple of epic and exhilarating come-from-behind victories over the Cowboys. Quarterback Matthew Stafford miraculously conducted a fourth quarter comeback after trailing by at least 10 points during the fourth quarter in each of their last two meetings.
This year’s Cowboys team is the best squad they’ve had in a while, however. Much like the Green Bay Packers, the Cowboys hold a top five offense that has been efficient in the pass game as well as the run game.
According to Football Outsiders, the Dallas Cowboys boast the #1 ranked offensive line in terms of run blocking, measured by their “Adjusted Line Yards” stat (explained here). This probably has a lot to do with how DeMarco Murray was able to surpass Emmitt Smith’s franchise rushing yards record (he now has 1,845).
To top it all off, Tony Romo is having a career year under center. This time around, he finished the year out with a great December and ended with career highs in completion percentage (69.9), NFL QB Rating (113.2), and QBR (82.75).
On the flip side, Dallas’ defense leaves much to be desired. They ended the year giving up 5.8 yards per play, which ranked 25th in the NFL. Luckily for them, their high-powered offense does a great job of disguising their defensive woes.
Despite giving up plenty of yards per play, they’re still near the middle in total yards allowed per game. This is likely due to the fact that their offense sustains long drives and keeps their defense fresh.
OT Doug Free – Ankle – Doubtful
DT Tyrone Crawford – Illness – Questionable
LB Anthony Hitchens – Ankle – Questionable
DT Josh Brent – Calf – Probable
LB Bruce Carter – Knee – Probable
DT Nick Hayden – Shoulder – Probable
S Jeff Heath – Thumb – Probable
OG Zack Martin – Ankle – Probable
LB Rolando McClain – Knee/Illness – Probable
RB DeMarco Murray – Hand – Probable
QB Tony Romo – Back – Probable
S C.J. Spillman – Groin – Probable
LB Dekoda Watson – Hamstring – Probable
The Dallas Cowboys are favored by eight points via Vegas Insider.
Keys To Winning
I strongly believe that the winner of this game will be the team that wins the battle of the trenches. With the Lions’ top ranked rushing defense squaring off against the Cowboys’ top ranked rushing offense, it’s going to be an absolute war in the trenches. But it’s a war the Lions need to win.
With the Lions’ top ranked rushing defense squaring off against the Cowboys’ top ranked rushing offense, it’s going to be an absolute war in the trenches. But it’s a war the Lions need to win.
The Lions need to do everything they can to shut down the rushing attack of the Cowboys, and make Tony Romo beat them in a playoff atmosphere.
If you told me the Lions would be in the wild card last week and had me pick an opponent, I would have probably asked for the Cowboys or the Panthers. While the Cowboys are certainly playing out of their minds right now, Tony Romo still has a lot to prove.
Detroit has as good of a shot as ever to get their first playoff win since 1991. In the end, I think the Dallas Cowboys come out on top, and the Lions fail to pull another miraculous comeback out of their hats.
Final Score: Cowboys 27 – Lions 17