Lions vs. Cowboys Week 11 Scouting Report: Dak Prescott challenge
When the Cowboys have the ball
The Cowboys boast one of the best offensive trios in the NFL in Pro Bowlers quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott and receiver Amari Cooper. The fleet-footed Prescott’s ascension from little-known fourth-round draft pick to star signal-caller in four seasons has been especially impressive. He is on pace to post career-best numbers across the board approaching free agency.
Elliott has been one of the most productive tailbacks around since entering the league 2016 and armed with a new six-year contract, he is in the middle of another strong season. The Lions have already faced some of the NFL’s absolute best runners this year with little success, and Elliott has pummeled Detroit in two career matchups with over 300 total yards and three touchdowns. Uh-oh.
Cooper has been lights-out since joining the Cowboys in the middle of last season and will pose a major challenge for a Lions secondary that is giving up the fifth-most passing yards per game in the NFL. Once again, expect leading cornerback Darius Slay to see the bulk of the snaps opposite the opposition’s best wideout. Slay isn’t having his best season, and has given up too many big plays this year. However, he is still capable of erasing whole portions of the field for stretches.
The Cowboys have fielded one of the best offensive lines in the NFL over the past half-decade, and this year is no different. Four of their five starters rank in the top-20 in overall grading at their respective position according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). They open running lanes, protect Prescott well and will be a tough matchup for a Lions defensive front that is looking more like a sick ward these days.
Defensive linemen A’Shawn Robinson, Mike Daniels, and Kevin Strong all suffered injuries in last week’s loss, adding more pain to a unit that was already without Romeo Okwara and Da’Shawn Hand. Other than Strong who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with a rib injury, it’s up in the air who will be available come Sunday.
The Lions will also welcome back a familiar face to Ford Field in Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who was a seldom-used backup quarterback for Detroit from 2012-2014. After retiring from playing, Moore spent 2018 as Dallas’ quarterbacks coach before being tabbed to run the offense this year. The returns have been excellent so far: the Cowboys rank first in yards per game, sixth in points per game, first in first downs per game and first in third-down percentage.