The SideLion Report staff makes their picks for the Detroit Lions Wild Card game against the Dallas Cowboys in the 2014 NFL Playoffs.
Matt Snyder – Do you remember what happened the last time Detroit and Dallas met in the playoffs? Last week’s starting center Travis Swanson doesn’t because he was 25 days away from being born. A win would provide great relief to a fan base who has, for all intents and purposes, never seen a first-round playoff win. That win wouldn’t mean the Lions are Super Bowl bound, but neither would a loss represent the failure of a season. Cowboys 24, Lions 20.
Braden Shackelford – Six of the last nine Super Bowl winners have taken part in wild card weekend. Could the Lions be the seventh? The Lions may look like under dogs, but then again so did the 9-7 Giants in 2011 and the Baltimore Ravens in 2012. Heck, not many thought the Green Bay Packers would go all the way in 2010 and they had Aaron Rodgers.
In 2014, no wild card team looks more dangerous than the Dallas Cowboys, but that’s the thing about sports, you just never know. I could see this game going either way and I could see the winner being the surprise team this time around. I have to pick the Lions in this one to send some positive vibes that way in hopes that this playoff appearance will be different than all the rest. Lions win, 24-20.
Alex Reno – No one is picking the Lions to win this game in regards to the national media. Despite being heavy underdogs, I think the Lions have as good of a chance as ever to win this game. Matthew Stafford will need to have a mistake-free game and the defense will just need to contain the Cowboys offense. I feel like I’ve seen this movie before. In the end, I think Dallas’ high-powered offense will prove to be too much for the Lions, however. Final score, Cowboys 27, Lions 17.
Max DeMara – Considering their successful recent history against the Cowboys, the nightmare matchup for the Lions in the playoffs would have been literally anyone else. Detroit knows they can beat Dallas, and thus should play with plenty of confidence. Don’t look for the Lions to get embarrassed, but don’t necessarily look for them to win, either. Detroit is very game, but comes up just short on a late field goal. Dallas 23, Detroit 20.
Zac Snyder – Going a perfect 8-0 on the road, the Dallas Cowboys were just 4-4 at home. A silver lining for the Lions? Maybe, but even though this will be a home game for the Cowboys, the ability to win on the road is a common trait of teams that have success in the playoffs. As for the Lions’ road performance this season, they are 0-4 in road games against playoff teams this season and have been outscored 102-42 in those games. Not pretty. I expect a closer game than many of the national pundits are expecting from the Lions but a Cowboys win just the same. Cowboys 27, Lions 20
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Darin Ackerman – With the curse of Romo seemingly a thing of the past, and Dallas having arguably the best ‘one-two punch’ in the NFL in DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant, it’s hard to imagine that the Lions have a shot at being victorious. However, there are some reasons to remain optimistic.
Dallas is ranked 26th in the league in pass defense, which could give Detroit the edge in this game if Stafford can consistently connect with Calvin and Tate. Getting Bell going early and often will allow the Lions to control the game if he can protect the ball. What could end up making the difference is whether OC Lombardi can figure out ways to get the ball to mismatch weapons Bush and Ebron.
Detroit’s top defense will be put to the test against Dallas’ talented offensive line and potent rushing attack. While the Lions have been strong against the run, they struggled to contain Green Bay and the defense will have to play assignment sound football. In the end, the Lions are still too mentally fragile to win against a home playoff team firing on all cylinders. Dallas 27, Detroit 20.
Kent Platte – The last time the Lions faced the Cowboys in the playoffs, Detroit would walk away with a blowout victory. Unfortunately, these are not the same teams. The Cowboys are hot on offense and middling on defense, the Lions are the reverse. I think this one gets out of hand early and becomes a shoot out. While Johnson and Bryant are the big names coming into this one, I think Golden Tate emerges as the biggest name on the box score for the Lions. Sadly, I also think Jason Witten shows up big for the Cowboys in a high scoring, exciting playoff contest. Cowboys 38, Lions 35.