The Detroit Lions, coming off an NFC North-clinching victory over the Minnesota Vikings, head south this weekend to take on the Dallas Cowboys in a primetime matchup. The playoff-bound Lions and Cowboys have plenty to play for with two games remaining in the NFL’s regular season, and this potential postseason matchup should draw plenty of eyeballs on Saturday evening. Below are some notes heading into this NFC heavyweight battle between two of the conference’s best teams.
Notes Ahead of Lions at Cowboys
Two-seed At Stake And Possibly More
The Lions will host their first playoff game since 1993, and the first in Ford Field history after clinching the NFC North for the first time in 30 years. The two remaining games will go a long way in determining their seed and opponent in the postseason.
If Detroit wins out, they will be the conference’s two-seed in the playoffs, at worst. If the San Francisco 49ers lose one of their two remaining games, and Detroit wins out, then the Lions would be the one-seed and earn a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. San Francisco plays the Los Angeles Rams in Week 18, who are fighting for their playoff lives and are led by former Lion Matthew Stafford.
Detroit fans would surely be rooting for their former quarterback to do them one more favor when these two teams meet, but none of that will matter if the Lions don’t take care of business this weekend. If Detroit leaves Dallas with a loss, they’ll most likely be the three-seed once the playoffs begin next month. Clinching the two-seed would guarantee Detroit two home playoff games, which would go a long way in their quest to make a deep postseason run.
Terence Steele vs Aidan Hutchinson
One matchup to watch will be Cowboys right tackle Terence Steele going up against Lions pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson. Steele has struggled along the Dallas offensive line this season, allowing 49 pressures, which is twice as many as any other Cowboys lineman. Hutchinson, on the other hand, has 87 pressures this season, which is the second-most in all of football.
While the former second-overall pick has had no issues this season getting to the opposing quarterback, he’s struggled in bringing them down. Hutchinson has only registered 6.5 sacks through 15 games, which is tied for the 44th most in the NFL. The Detroit defense desperately needs Hutchinson to start finishing plays, and Saturday would be an opportune time for the Michigan product to make his presence felt against the high-powered Dallas offense.
Favorable Matchup For Lions’ Ground Game
It’s no secret that the Cowboys have one of the best defenses in all of football — their current unit is seventh in total defense in the league. With that said, there are parts of it that the Lions can attack, starting on the ground.
Detroit boasts the third-best rushing attack in the NFL, averaging 141.1 yards per game on the ground. Rookie Jahmyr Gibbs has emerged as a superstar and veteran David Montgomery continues to produce in long and short-distance situations. The Dallas defense consists of many prolific players headlined by linebacker Micah Parsons, but they struggle to stop the run; the Cowboys are allowing 115.7 rushing yards per game, which ranks 19th in football. Dallas is also in the bottom half of the league in third-down defense % and red zone efficiency. Establishing the run game to open up the offense and capitalizing in the red zone will be key factors in the Lions having any chance at taking down the Cowboys on Saturday.
Cowboys Perfect At Home
If the Lions were to pull off the road upset, they’d be the first opposing team to win in Dallas this season, and only the second in the last two years. The Cowboys’ record from Jerry World during that timeframe is 15-1, with their only loss coming at the hands of the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Lions will look to do something no opponent has done this season at AT&T Stadium before heading back to Detroit for the regular season finale against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 18.
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