The Detroit Lions, who currently sit at 1-2, are coming off one of the most shocking wins of the young NFL season. They beat the New England Patriots, 26-10, at home last Sunday night. That victory could be the turning point for this Lions team.
After playing poorly in their first two games against the New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers, this team looks like it could be heading in the right direction.
The Dallas Cowboys, who also sit at 1-2, seem to be heading in the opposite direction. After beating the New York Giants, their NFC East rival, they ended up losing handily to the Seattle Seahawks last week, 24-13.
So far through three weeks, these two teams are complete opposites.
The Lions have had a pretty solid offense (23.3 points per game) but a poor defense (29.3 points allowed per game). The Cowboys have struggled on offense (13.7 PPG) but have had a rather stingy defense (17.7 PAPG).
Detroit has also relied on the play of their quarterback while Dallas has relied on the play of their running back to generate yards and points.
Matthew Stafford, who played perhaps the worst game of his career against the Jets, has seemed himself over the last two contests. Since throwing for 286 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions on that dreadful Monday night battle, he has shown what he can really do.
In the two games since that loss in Week 1, Stafford has thrown for 609 yards, five TDs and only one INT. He has been the leader of this team on the offensive side of the ball after letting them down to begin the season.
While QB play has been the engine that has propelled the Lions, the play of the Cowboys signal caller, Dak Prescott, has been the position holding this squad back. Prescott has not thrown for over 170 yards in any game this season so far and only has two passing touchdowns on the year to go with two interceptions. He has also only eclipsed the 200-yard mark in two of his previous 11 games.
While I understand he lost crucial weapons, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, in the offseason, Prescott still looks like he has taken a step back from his first two seasons.
But while their quarterback has struggled so far, the Cowboys have relied on star running back, Ezekiel Elliott, to power this offense. He is currently the NFL co-leader in rushing yards with 49ers back Matt Breida at 274 yards. The Lions, who played the Niners in Week 2, gave up 138 to Breida and I expect Zeke to crack the century mark in this contest as well. The Lions are currently giving up an average of 149.3 yards per game on the ground so far.
The Lions, on the other hand, have struggled to get their rushing attack going. While they finally got their first 100-yard rusher in a game since 2013 last week against the Pats courtesy of Kerryon Johnson, they are still averaging only 98 yards per game.
Injuries could play a part in the outcome of this one as well.
Sean Lee, the heart and soul of this Dallas defense, is doubtful for the game against the Lions after suffering a hamstring injury versus the Seahawks last week. Cole Beasley, the Cowboys leading receiver in an already poor passing offense, is questionable with an ankle injury.
As for the Lions, they could be without defensive end Ezekiel Ansah for a third consecutive contest. Ziggy has missed the previous two games with a shoulder injury and is questionable heading into this week. It’s not looking promising for the pass rusher to return in Week 4.
But now time for the prediction. The Lions are coming off their first win of the season and are going to be hungry to get to .500 after starting off the year 0-2. The Cowboys are looking to defend Jerry World and move to 2-0 at home while trying to keep pace in the NFC East race.
I think the Lions pass defense, which is currently No. 1 in the NFL through three weeks, continues to step up while Prescott continues to struggle. The Cowboys will have to rely on Elliott to dominate the game, and while I think he will have a good game, his contributions will not be enough to overcome the deficiencies of the passing attack.
Stafford will continue to improve and I believe he will have his best game of the season against this Dallas defense. He will hook up with his terrific trio of Golden Tate, Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay to the tune of over 250 yards and multiple scores.
The current line has the Lions as plus-3 underdogs at the moment. But I think they travel to Texas and not just cover the spread, but come away with a win outright.
Lions 27, Cowboys 17.
All stats are courtesy of ESPN.com.