Dallas Cowboys vs Detroit Lions: Key matchups and X-factors in NFC showdown

Oct 23, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA;  Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) catches a pass
Oct 23, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) catches a pass / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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The Dallas Cowboys haven't been able to pick up big wins on the road this season and for some, the sky is falling and the Cowboys star looks to be fading but they aren't feeling the same way. Dallas does feel like they need to win this game, and head coach Mike McCarthy came out this week saying that the Lions will be the toughest matchup the Cowboys face this season.

Now, I'm not so sure about that but the Lions present a variety of possible problems for this Cowboys defense thanks to their rushing attack with their physical offensive line leading the way for running backs David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs.

A rushing attack that ranks third in yards (2,116 yards) and second in touchdowns (24) on the season. How the Cowboys defend the run will be key in this matchup because the Lions passing attack needs that running back to run their highly effective play-action passing game and keep the pressure off of Jared Goff who's a statue in the pocket. The Cowboys also can't forget about their weapons on the outside with receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds, and Jameson Williams along with tight end Sam LaPorta. It's not going to be easy for the Cowboys even though they are at home, but they are going to need to have key players step up in this game if they want to get this win and keep their chances of a division title and better playoff seeding in their grasp.

3 key Cowboys offensive matchups vs Lions

Terence Steele vs Aidan Hutchinson

Until proven otherwise anytime that Terence Steele has to line up against the opposing team's best pass-rusher he will be a key matchup. This week he faces off against the relentless Aidan Hutchinson who is having another great season leading the team with six sacks and over 80 quarterback pressures. Steele is going to have his hands full in this game in the passing game and you can expect the Lions defense to add extra bodies on his side to put added pressure on him in the passing game.

One area in which Steele could have an upper hand though and that’s in the running game against Hutchinson who can have plays run at him thanks to his aggressiveness as a pass rusher. But for the most part, the biggest thing that Steele needs to do is keep Hutchinson in front of him and not allow him to cross his face and get inside to stop the run or get pressure on Dak Prescott in the passing game.

CeeDee Lamb vs Cameron Sutton

If the Cowboys want to win this game, they can’t go through another CeeDee Lamb targets drought because we’ve seen just how different this offense performs when Lamb is targeted. This week he has a chance to do some serious damage against a Lions secondary that ranks 23rd in passing yards allowed (3,523 yards), 25th in receiving touchdowns (24), and 24th in net yards gained per attempt (6.5 yards). It doesn’t matter who Lamb would be matched up against because the Lions like to plan man coverage.

The matchup to look out for here will be against Cameron Sutton who’s their best cornerback but has been attacked with some effectiveness this season by opposing quarterbacks. He’s currently allowing quarterbacks to complete 61% of their passes this season, last week he was targeted four times with three completions for 83 yards. Lamb should be licking his chops at the prospect of this matchup and so should Dak Prescott.

Dak Prescott vs Alex Anzalone

The Lions are a very good run-defending football team, and we know they are vulnerable in the passing, but one area not focused on is that they are very susceptible to mobile quarterbacks using designed quarterback runs. With their secondary being a liability and them playing more man coverage it can open more running lanes for Dak Prescott to take advantage and pick up yards with his legs much like Lamar Jackson and Justin Fields were able to do in their games. We’ve seen how much pressure that can put on defenders trying to stop Dak while he’s on the move, especially since he continues to look for open players downfield.

The Lions haven’t been able to crack the problem and Prescott and this Cowboys offense need to take advantage of this early to force the Lions to keep an extra player in the box and open the field up even more for Prescott in the passing game. If they allow Prescott to do this early in the game, it will be a huge first step in winning this game by one keeping the Lions' offense on the field and secondly giving their defense as much rest as they can get against this Lions offense.