In a rare Monday night game for the Lions, they head to Dallas,Texas (8:30 p.m. ET) for a showdown at AT&T Stadium. This is nothing new. Detroit walking into Dallas with something to prove. In the most recent tangled, if undocumented history of these two franchises, the 2014 NFC Wild Card Game, the infamous “Pass Interference” flag that was picked up that ended a Detroit game-winning drive and decided the game.
It could possibly go way back to perhaps the strange 5-0 Cowboys playoff victory in 1970. Or maybe to Detroit CB Ray Crockett standing at the one-yard line for a full five seconds after picking off a peach-faced Troy Aikman for a 50 yd TD return and stopping at the one yard line before he broke the plane of the enzone to seal a blow out victory. Sheesh, if not for the graciousness of the Ford family, Dallas was essentially allowed to copy the Lions color-scheme and uniforms after the NFL/AFL merger.
Put it this way, the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions are both proud franchises.
What to Look For:
– Will the Cowboys even bother to show up?
With the New York Giants loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday, Dallas has clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Which had to be a huge sigh of relief for the folks in Jerry World – as the Giants have had the Cowboys number all year. So this game actually means nothing to Dallas. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to start seeing them rest some guys and treat this as more of a pre-season-type of game where they start giving some reps to reserves at some point. If for example, Ezekiel Elliott just happens to sprain his ACL on a meaningless run in the fourth quarter, the Dallas coaching staff will look like total buffoons. So it will be interesting to see if the Lions are actually playing the Cowboys, or the Junior Varsity.
– Lions Pass Protection vs. Dallas Pass Rush
It seems like a lifetime ago when Rod Marinelli was nearly burned at the stake in Detroit and looked like a deer in the headlights in 2008 after coaching the Lions to an 0-16 season – the last domino to fall of the entire Matt Millen fiasco. He seems to have learned a lot from that experience, and the Cowboys’ Defensive Coordinator has found his stride and comfort zone (and a boatload of talent). Although the defense doesn’t feature a double-digit sack producer, they are very deep across the board and use multiple looks/stunts to generate pressure. They give up a paltry 18.4 points per contest (5th best in the league). And they have accumulated only 661 yards in penalties all year (2nd best in the league). Detroit C Travis Swanson will be tested, especially. He simply has to get better at picking up blitzes.