It might come as a surprise to some Cowboys fans, but Dallas is a three-point favorite as it hosts the Detroit Lions at noon on Sunday.
Furthermore, ESPN’s Power Index Matchup Predictor has the Cowboys with a 68.7-percent chance of winning as of Friday morning.
Here are some of the particulars:
SERIES HISTORY: 25th regular-season meeting. Cowboys lead, 13-11. The Cowboys defeated Detroit in Dallas in 2016 and in the Wild Card round of the playoffs in 2015. The Lions won the two meetings before that, including a 34-30 victory in Dallas in 2011.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – The number of Cowboys completions of more than 20 yards this season. Prescott hit Tavon Austin for a 64-yard touchdown on the third play of Dallas’s victory over the Giants. And that’s it.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: RB Ezekiel Elliott had a breakout game, on paper at least, as he rushed for a season-high 127 yards in the Cowboys’ loss to the Seahawks on Sunday. However, he fumbled in the fourth quarter, keeping Dallas from chipping away at Seattle’s lead. He also made a crucial error when he stepped out of bounds on a pass route and ultimately negated a 31-yard touchdown catch.
GAME PLAN: While fans and the media have been clamoring for the Cowboys to kick start their vertical passing game, the message from Garrett has been that the offense needs to be cleaner in its execution. The Seahawks defense sacked Prescott five times and the Cowboys gave up three turnovers. Conversely, in Dallas’s win over the Giants, Prescott wasn’t sacked and the Cowboys didn’t give the ball away. Vertical passing game or not, a mistake-free Cowboys offense has the potential to be an efficient offense. Dallas needs to prove that, as it did in its previous home game against the Giants.
The Cowboys have been much more dangerous on defense, especially up front. But the Cowboys’ secondary gave up too many big plays last week. When Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson hit wide receiver Tyler Lockett for a 52-yard touchdown, it swung the game’s momentum to Seattle in a huge way, not to mention giving them a 14-3 lead that proved insurmountable. With the Cowboys offense trying to stay out of the absolute bottom of the NFL, the Dallas defense needs to be dominant, i.e. lots of sacks and no big plays.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
COWBOYS QB DAK PRESCOT VS. LIONS SECONDARY. Prescott has been unable to stretch defenses with the vertical passing game all season. But that problem was compounded last week when the Seahawks got their hands on a couple of interceptions. Prescott has to be a worry for opposing secondaries in order for the Cowboys’ offense to click.
COWBOYS D-LINE VS. LIONS QB MATT STAFFORD. Stafford has stayed upright most of the time as he’s only been sacked three times all season. That contrasts sharply with Dallas’s main strength. The Cowboys ability or inability to get to Stafford could dictate the momentum of the game.