By Yusuf Nakhooda
The Dallas Cowboys will travel to Detroit on Sunday afternoon, as they try to get back into the winners circle and keep their NFC East division lead against the Matthew Staffordless Detroit Lions.
Watch for Ezekiel Elliott in this game. The 24-year old running back has amassed at least 100 rushing yards in three out of his last four games, and he should exploit the Lions in this game. Elliot is up to 788 rushing yards. Amari Cooper was targeted frequently last week, and I expect the same in this one. The talented 24-year old receiver has collected 848 receiving yards. The Cowboys offense continues to lead the NFL with an average of 437 total yards per game.
When the Cowboys have the ball:
The Cowboys are also a big threat on the ground. He wasn't at his best last Sunday against the Vikings stifling defense last week, notching only 47 yards, but he accrued a season-high 139 yards against the Giants at the beginning of the month. The 24-year old running back has notched 788 rushing yards on an average of 4.4 yards per attempt on the season. Elliot has surprisingly only had one rush of over 20 yards this season.
The Cowboys feature a prolific passing offense that is consistently producing and they have established one of the most dangerous offensive units in the game. They have been especially sharp in their last two games which included nearly 400 passing yards against a solid Vikings defense last week.
Prescott has terrific chemistry with Amari Cooper. The 25-year old is having a tremendous season in his first year in Dallas, bringing in 848 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Cooper will likely be lined up against Lions' top corner Darius Slay in this one.
Second-year receiver Michael Gallup is also having a breakout season, amassing 530 receiving yards on 33 receptions. Gallup posted 76 receiving yards against the Vikings last week. Tight end Jason Witten has 338 receiving yards, and Randall Cobb is third in team receiving with 380 yards.
When the Lions have the ball:
he Lions passing game is their greatest team strength but it all depends on Matthew Stafford.. The veteran QB is day-to-day with broken bones in his back which does not sound very encouraging. There is a decent chance he will miss multiple games. Stafford is having a productive season, logging 2499 passing yards with a 19:5 TD to INT ratio, and he has the ability to keep his team in games. As of yesterday it seems highly unlikely that Stafford will play so the Lions offense will be hard pressed to generate any points.
Jeff Driskel will be under center. The 26-year old QB fared reasonably well in his lone action last week against the Bears, collecting 269 passing yards with one touchdown against one interception. Driskel owns a 10:7 TD to INT ratio in 10 career games. He has a few talented receivers to target downfield.
Detroit features one of the better young receivers in the game in Kenny Golladay. The third-year receiver will eclipse 1200 receiving yards on the season if Stafford does not miss extended time. Golladay has surpassed 100 receiving yards four times this season, and he has 697 receiving yards on the season.
Marvin Jones Jr. is also having a superb season. The 29-year old WR recently accumulated 126 receiving yards against the Raiders, and he has made 34 catches in his last four games. Jones Jr. has tallied 612 receiving yards on the season.
T.J. Hockensen was the Lions top pick in the past draft and he is having an encouraging rookie season. The former Iowa Hawkeye has accrued 343 receiving yards and will only get better as he gains more experience.
Cowboys kicker Brett Maher will miss some field goals. He has converted on 14 of his 20 field goal attempts for a 70% percentage. He has one miss in the 30-39 yard range and is 4 for 8 on field goals above 50 yards. Maher's longest was a remarkable 63-yarder.
I expect the Cowboys to win this game by more than a touchdown. Dallas has the edge in all areas and Matt Stafford has been officially ruled out. The Lions have dropped five of their last six games overall, and their last three losses occurred by at least seven points. Detroit won’t be able to generate significant yards on the ground due to the absence of #1 RB Kerryon Johnson, and Dallas is outstanding against the run. The Cowboys also feature a great pass defense that is limiting opponents to 219.8 total yards per game. Lions' backup QB Jeff Driskel will not be able to solve the Cowboys defense.
Detroit is allowing an average of 272 passing yards per game, pegging them 28th in the NFL, and Prescott continues to rack up the passing yards. The Lions rush defense is supposed to be a strength, but stand down at 26th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, so I anticipate a productive performance from Elliot.
And look for the Dallas defense to have a field day against the Lions Offense with Stafford out. Demarcus Lawrence, Michael Bennett, and Robert Quinn should have their way, and the secondary will get a few interceptions to get the Cowboys into the win column.
Final Score: Dallas Cowboys 35 Detroit Lions 10
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