Despite having better than expected seasons considering the circumstances, the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys find themselves at the bottom half of their respective divisions. Before their bye in Week 6, the Lions were shellacked on the road by the New England Patriots 29-0. After a rough start to their Week 6 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys came back and made things interesting but still fell 26-17.
We’ll take a look at three narratives to keep an eye on in this contest.
Dak Prescott’s Likely Return
After starting quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a thumb injury in Week 1, many across the NFL landscape called for the franchise to look outside the organization for a suitable fill-in. As it turned out, their incumbent backup signal caller was just fine in relief. Cooper Rush was at helm for four consecutive Dallas wins, and proved to be a reliable insurance policy.
However, Rush’s limitations were exposed last week against Philadelphia. When facing upper echelon teams, it is difficult to hide the deficiencies of a quarterback, and the momentum for Prescott’s return picked up steam. To be clear, Detroit’s defense is not the most intimidating in the league, but Dallas cannot afford to lose too much ground in a surprisingly tough NFC East.
By all accounts, Prescott’s thumb is feeling much better, and he has an excellent chance to come back on Sunday.
Trick Or Treat: Detroit’s Offense
Most people expected the Lions not to contend for the postseason, and that’s still the most likely outcome. What many fans did not expect was the competency that Detroit has showed for the majority of the season offensively. Quarterback Jared Goff has had some big games, and the team has been able to march up and down the field to remain competitive in most of their tilts.
Their shutout loss to New England came as a bit of a surprise for a team that seemed to be clicking on offense. Detroit will be going up against arguably the best defense in the NFL in Dallas, so it will be intriguing to see whether they can recapture their offensive magic on Sunday.
Micah Parsons’ Utilization
Even though the Cowboys are favored to win this game, Detroit presents some potentially interesting matchup issues for them. Budding star cornerback Trevon Diggs is likely to be the person tasked with slowing down Amon-Ra St. Brown, but Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has a decision to make with Defensive Player Of The Year candidate Micah Parsons.
Parsons is one of the most athletic players in the game, and gives opponents nightmares from the linebacker position. With the possible return of running back De’Andre Swift, the Cowboys could elect to keep Parsons near the line of scrimmage to help contain Detroit’s run game. They could also choose to have the former Penn State star try to slow down tight end T.J. Hockenson.
Yet a third option for Dallas would be to let Parsons try to blitz frequently in hopes of rattling Goff’s timing. It’ll be a fun subplot to the game.