The Detroit Lions will once again be without their franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford. Here’s how the Pride can beat the Cowboys without him.
On Friday, it was revealed that Matthew Stafford, the franchise quarterback for the Detroit Lions, has been ruled out for his second-consecutive game due to broken bones in his back. Without Stafford, the Lions will have to face off against the 5-4 Dallas Cowboys with backup Jeff Driskel under center.
Although some may have already written the Lions off against the Cowboys at Ford Field this Sunday, Dallas has been one of the most inconsistent teams in the NFL despite currently leading the NFC East by the slimmest of margins. Back in Week Six, the Cowboys were defeated by the lowly New York Jets, who currently have a 2-7 record.
The point is, even with a backup passer under center, the Lions are capable of defeating the Cowboys. And here’s how …
Stopping Ezekiel Elliott
Although stopping the highest-paid running back in the NFL is easier said than done, the Minnesota Vikings were able to do just that last week in their 28-24 victory over the Cowboys. Elliott averaged just 2.4 yards per carried and was stuffed twice on a critical drive late in the contest.
If the Lions run defense can finally find a way to live up to their talent-level, this Matt Patricia-led defensive unit can copycat what the Vikings were able to do. If Detroit can make the Cowboys’ star-studded offense one-dimensional, perhaps they will be able to keep the game close.
Containing DeMarcus Lawrence
The Lions’ offensive line will face their toughest task of the season keeping edge rushers like DeMarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn, and the versatile Michael Bennett at bay. But the real difference-maker in this group is Lawrence.
Don’t be fooled by his relatively low sack totals this season. (4.5 sacks through nine games) Lawrence is a beast whose impact goes far beyond the stat sheet both as a ferocious pass rusher with both quarterback pressures and hits. Plus he’s more than an adequate run-stopper from the left end position. Containing Lawrence will be vital.
But starting right tackle Ricky Wagner has now been ruled out for the game as he’s been dealing with a concussion all week, which places swing tackle Tyrell Crosby across from Lawrence. And that could potentially have disastrous results for the Motor City.
Taking advantage of Chidobe Awuzie
Although it appears Cowboys starting safety Jeff Heath may miss the matchup against the Lions with a shoulder injury, his backup, Darian Thompson, has played well in spot duty. The real area Detroit may want to attack in the Dallas secondary is wherever third-year cornerback Chidobe Awuzie is. Playing opposite Pro Bowl corner Byron Jones, Awuzie has struggled this season and opposing offenses are slowly learning that truth. If there is one area Jeff Driskel may want to focus his passing attack, it’s there.