The 1-4 Detroit Lions travel this Sunday to face off against the Dallas Cowboys. The Lions will look to come out strong after their bye week. The bye week could not come at a better time as the Lions were reeling after being shutout 29-0 by the New England Patriots. The Cowboys have looked strong this season despite missing starting QB Dak Prescott for 4 games. This week, Prescott will return and look to elevate their offense to the level of their strong defense.
Key #1 for Detroit Lions: Containing the edge rushers
The Cowboys' defense has been one of the best units in the league to this point in the season. Their defensive success all starts with their edge rushers. Micah Parsons is already one of the best defensive players in the league who excels both as a pass rusher and off-ball linebacker. To pair with the young star, the Cowboys also have Demarcus Lawrence and Dante Fowler, two incredibly skilled pass rushers in their own right.
Tasked with keeping Jared Goff clean will be tasked to Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell. After struggling with Matt Judon last game, the duo will need to rebound in order for the Lions to have success. If they play up to their potential, the rest of the Lions' offense can attack the weaker parts of the Cowboys' defense. If they can't, it will be another repeat of the Patriots game where the offense gets shut down by too much pass rush.
Key #2 for Detroit Lions: Exploiting their aggressiveness
Another key facet of the Cowboys' defense is their aggressive play style. This play style is perfectly embodied by corner Trevon Diggs. The corner loves to gamble for interceptions and big plays but can be susceptible to big plays when the risks don't play off. Diggs is not the only player who does this. Parsons and the rest of the defense loves to go for interceptions or force fumbles to turn the ball over.
The Lions not only need to take care of the ball; they need to take advantage of the defense's attacking style. In the passing game, the Lions should look for double moves or other deep passes to see if they can catch one of the corner's gambling. Also, if the Cowboys try too hard to strip the ball, Jamaal Williams, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and others can break the tackles to create a big play out of nothing. If they can do that, it will lead to some easy points against one of the best defenses in the league.
Key #3 for Detroit Lions: Slowing down the run game
Once again, the Lions are facing a run-based offensive attack, and to this point, the results have not been good so far. The Patriots, Seahawks, and Eagles all had major success running the ball on the Lions' front. This week, the Lions face another talented rushing attack headlined by Tony Pollard and Ezekial Elliott. Both players have had strong seasons and have done a great job keeping the offense afloat without Dak Prescott.
This will be the biggest test of the Lions' coaching staff and their ability to improve during the bye week. The Lions have been horrible against the run to this point, and they need to at least show some improvement this week if they are to have a chance. If they do slow down the run, they should have some success at stopping the Cowboys. When healthy this year, Prescott actually was not that good. He struggled in weeks 1 and 2 and should not be counted on to immediately step in and play great. Even if he does, the Lions should sell out to stop the run and take their chances on a QB returning from a 4-week hiatus.
Final Thoughts for Detroit Lions
To this point, the Detroit Lions' season has been a disappointment, to say the least. However, it is only 5 games in, and the Lions have 12 games to turn the season around. Coming off the bye and facing a QB returning from injury, the Lions have an opportunity to kickstart that in week 7.
Offensively, if they protect Jared Goff and make some big plays, they should be able to put up some points on a good defense. Surprisingly, the Cowboys offense looked just okay the first two weeks with Dak at the helm. If they can finally figure out a way to stop the run game, the defense has a chance to somewhat limit the Cowboys' offense. Put that all together, and the Lions could pull off the upset and earn some goodwill with the fans.