Dallas Cowboys: 3 keys to victory over the Detroit Lions

Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys must maintain their status atop the NFC East. Here are three keys to America’s Team getting the win over the Detroit Lions in Week 11.

The 5-4 Dallas Cowboys are coming off a devastating loss to the Minnesota Vikings in primetime. Despite the setback, the Cowboys still sit atop their division, tied with the 5-4 Philadelphia Eagles. Dallas defeated Philly, 37-10, back in Week Seven. They’ll meet again in Week 16.

But if the Cowboys wish to keep their narrow lead over the Birds now, they’ll need to come out of Ford Field this Sunday with a victory over the struggling but dangerous 3-5-1 Detroit Lions. Here are three keys to Dallas getting that win in Week 11.

Stopping the Lions’ passing attack

The Lions have all but given up running the football in Motown. After starting running back Kerryon Johnson was placed on Injured Reserve with a knee injury after Week Seven, Detroit has done nothing to replace his production.

The Motor City has essentially pushed all their chips in on 10-year franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford and a lethal passing attack. But Stafford missed last week’s matchup against the Chicago Bears due to broken bones in his back. It was his first missed start since 2010. And Stafford’s status for this matchup has already been decided, he’s already been ruled out.

Without Stafford, the Lions offense is lifeless and nothing to fear with backup Jeff Driskel under center. Expect a dink-and-dunk performance from Driskel and several runs outside the pocket to avoid pressure. If he’s able to break free to the outside and buy more time, that’s where the deep plays could be made.

Overwhelming Detroit’s offensive line

Like the Cowboys, the Lions have invested heavily in their offensive line. Both left tackle Taylor Decker and center Frank Ragnow are recent first-round selections. Starting right tackle Rick Wagner was a high-priced free agent signing from a coupe years ago.

Still, this is an average group at best. And the Lions will be without Wagner in this matchup as he’s been dealing with a concussion all week, missing all three practice. That puts unproven swing tackle Tyrell Crosby in the hot seat.

This is a Motor City O-line that should be easily overwhelmed by the Cowboys’ numerous pass rushers in DeMarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn, Michael Bennett, and whomever else decides to join in that day. Obviously, we’ve seen this defensive unit struggle at times as well, but they should find success in Motown early and often.

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Avoid a slow start

It’s no secret the Cowboys have been their own worst opponent this season. If Dallas’ high-powered offense once again struggles out of the gate, this Matt Patricia-led defense will start to gain confidence. And they have some talented playmakers like defensive end Trey Flowers, defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison, and cornerback Darius Slay.

The best thing the Dallas Cowboys can do is establish their dominance early. If not, this resilient Detroit Lions’ squad has a tendency to keep games close.