What: Dallas Cowboys at Detroit Lions
When: Sunday, November 17 at 1:00 pm ET
Where: Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan
How (TV): FOX
Latest point spread: Cowboys -7, Lions +7.
This Week 11 NFC faceoff between the 5-4 Dallas Cowboys and the 3-5-1 Detroit Lions should be an exciting fight between two teams desperate for a win if they hope to have any chance to play football in January.
The Cowboys must travel for this one, coming off a tough loss to the Minnesota Vikings at home in Week 10, whereas the Lions get to play at home but they, too, are still feeling the sting of a recent loss, theirs to a faltering divisional rival, the Chicago Bears, by a touchdown.
Dallas is ready to flex its talented muscles and Detroit is ready to prove it can win the big games, so let’s take a quick look at how these two NFC teams measure up against each other for their Week 11 showdown.
For more on week 11, check out our latest video on “NFL Week 11 – Picks & Best Bets.”
There is no legitimate reason that the Dallas Cowboys are just a game over .500 at this point in the season, but inconsistent play from the team’s playmakers hasn’t helped, nor has a run defense that currently ranks in the middle of the league.
The good news is Dallas has Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper (plus Hall-of-Fame bound tight end Jason Whitten thrown in) and they are all healthy, so that kind of talent can beat anyone if they are on their game, but therein lies the current rub.
The Cowboys seem up and down, in and out, hit or miss this season, beating tough teams but then losing to the Jets and looking kind of shaky in their wins over the Redskins and the Giants, so it will be up to head coach Jason Garrett to find the game plan and team psychology to get them back on track and heading towards the postseason where they should be able to make decent stand.
The Detroit Lions are hoping to get their franchise quarterback back, Matthew Stafford out last week with an injured back and listed as questionable for Week 11 against the Cowboys, his absence proving to be unbearable for a team barely hanging on at this point with their main man healthy and under center.
Even with Stafford, the Lions are having a tough time in 2019, having lost their last five out of six games and posting an 0-3 record in the NFC North, both signs that the season is basically over for them.
The good news is that Detroit’s offense is actually pretty good – they’re ranked 6th overall right now averaging almost 390 total yards and over 24 points per game – so they can keep up with most teams, but it’s closing the deal in the fourth quarter where this Lions team has been coming up short.
These two NFC rivals have met 28 total times (including 3 postseason games), with Dallas winning 16 of those times and Detroit winning the other 12 games.
The last time these two teams played was last season in September when the Lions traveled to Texas to get beaten by the Cowboys by a score of 26-24.
If the Cowboys win this matchup, they’ll move to 6-4-0 and stay at least even with the other NFC East divisional leader, the Philadelphia Eagles, who also enter into Week 11 with a 5-4 record.
But if the Lions come out winners in this one, they’ll be 4-5-1 and challenge the Chicago Bears for the bottom of the NFC North, Chicago with 4 wins right now going into Week 11.
Who’s favored to win this Week 11 Cowboys-Lions matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to briefly compare the Cowboys and the Lions next and attempt to answer those questions and more.
Passing attack: The Dallas Cowboys have the 3rd ranked passing offense in the league right now, averaging 299.2 yards per game through the air after ten weeks.
Quarterback Dak Prescott is currently under center in Dallas and ranked the 2nd most productive passer in the league having completed 218-of-319 passes for 2,777 yards and 18 touchdowns with 9 interceptions and a completion percentage of 68.3.
The Cowboys’ leading receiver after ten weeks is Amari Cooper, who is currently ranked 3rd in the league among receivers with 53 catches for 848 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Rushing attack: The Cowboys’ rushing attack is ranked 5th in the NFL after averaging 138.2 yards on the ground per game.
Ezekiel Elliott is the Cowboys’ best runner and he is currently the 8th in the NFL with 178 carries for 788 yards and 6 rushing touchdowns, averaging 4.4 yards per carry.
Dallas has scored 251 total points this season, or 27.9 per game, which is the 6th best total in the NFL.
Listed as questionable for Week 11: offensive tackles La’el Collins (knee – MCL) and Cameron Fleming (calf), wide receiver Amari Cooper (knee) and offensive guard Zack Martin (back).
Injury notes: offensive guard Connor Williams (knee) is listed as OUT, wide receiver Noah Brown (knee) is listed as PUP-R, while wide receivers Jon’Vea Johnson (shoulder) and Lance Lenoir (knee) and guards Connor McGovern (pectoral) and Cody Wichmann (calf) have been placed on injured reserve.
Passing attack: Detroit has the 4th best passing attack in the league right now after averaging 291.2 yards through the air each game.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford (who is listed as questionable for Week 11, see below) is the 10th most productive NFL passer after completing 187-of-291 passes for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns with 5 interceptions and a completion percentage of 64.3.
The Lions’ best receiver is currently Kenny Golladay, who has caught 38 passes for 697 yards with 8 touchdowns in ten weeks, ranked 11th among NFL receivers right now.
Rushing attack: Detroit has the 20th ranked rushing attack, so far averaging 96.2 yards on the ground per game.
Ty Johnson is now the Lions’ best runner (with Kerryon Johnson on injured reserve, see below) and now he is the 60th most productive in the NFL with 44 carries for 153 yards and 0 touchdowns, averaging 3.5 yards per carry.
Detroit has scored 217 points in 2019, averaging 24.1 per game, which is currently the 14th highest scoring average in the NFL.
Listed as questionable for Week 11: quarterback Matthew Stafford (back), running back Ty Johnson (concussion) and offensive tackle Rick Wagner (concussion).
Injury notes: wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (leg) and running back Kerryon Johnson (knee) have been placed on injured reserve.
The Cowboys have Dak and Zeke and Amari so they will have the offensive advantage on Sunday, especially given the fact that Stafford is banged up right now.
Pass coverage: The Cowboys have the 6th best pass defense in 2019 so far, allowing opponents to throw for 219.8 yards through the air per game.
Dallas’s defense has 4 team interceptions and they have 23 sacks total.
Run coverage: The Cowboys are the 14th best NFL team against the run right now after allowing opponents to run for 103.4 yards per game.
Dallas has allowed their opponents to score 170 total points, or 18.9 per game, which is T-6th least in the NFL.
Cowboys’ middle linebacker Jaylon Smith is playing lights out football so far, with 81 total tacks (3 for a loss) which is ninth-most in the NFL right now, plus he has 2 forced fumbles, 2.5 sacks, and 3 quarterback hits.
Hoo boy, Cowboys’ defensive end Robert Quinn sure does like to get after quarterbacks, so far with 7.5 total sacks, 11 quarterback hits, 3 passes defended and 16 total tackles (7 for a loss).
Dallas free safety Xavier Woods is rocking this season, so far with 2 interceptions, 5 quarterback hits, 2 forced fumbles and 51 total tackles in the Cowboys’ secondary.
Listed as questionable for Week 11: safety Jeff Heath (shoulder), defensive end Demarcus Lawrence (neck), defensive tackle Antwaun Woods (shoulder) and cornerback C.J. Goodwin (knee).
Injury notes: defensive end Randy Gregory (suspension) is listed as OUT, while defensive end Jalen Jelks (undisclosed), defensive tackles Daniel Ross (shoulder) and Tyrone Crawford (hip), cornerback Chris Westry (undisclosed) and safety Kavon Frazier (pectoral) have been placed on injured reserve.
Pass coverage: The Lions’ defense is 28th best against the pass, allowing their opponents to throw for an average of 272.4 yards per matchup.
Detroit’s defense has 3 interceptions on opposing quarterbacks and they have 19 total sacks after ten weeks.
Run coverage: The Lions are 26th best against a rushing attack, allowing opponents to run for an average of 129.7 yards per game.
Detroit has allowed its opponents to score 237 total points this season, or 26.3 per matchup, which is 24th fewest in the NFL.
Defensive back Tracy Walker is the Lions’ best tackler right now, with 56 total tackles (5 for a loss), an interception, 6 passes defended and a forced fumble.
For all your quarterback hunting needs, watch Lions’ defensive end Trey Flowers – the beast has 5.0 sacks, 10 quarterback hits, 2 forced fumbles and 36 total tackles (6 for a loss).
Cornerback Justin Coleman is the Lions player to watch in the secondary, right now with an interception, 11 passes defended, 2 forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and 35 total tackles.
Listed as questionable for Week 11: defensive ends Da’Shawn Hand (ankle) and Romeo Okwara (groin), defensive tackle John Atkins (wrist), linebacker Miles Killebrew (concussion) and safety Tracy Walker (knee).
Injury notes: defensive end Austin Bryant (arm) and defensive tackles Darius Kilgo (undisclosed) and Kevin Strong (ribs) have been placed on injured reserve.
The Dallas Cowboys are (by far) better defensively than the Lions, both against the pass and the run, so they will have the defensive advantage on Sunday.
Dallas’ veteran punter, Chris Jones, is in his ninth NFL season, all with the Cowboys, and this year he has punted 26 times for a net average of 38.1 yards per punt, which was the 34th best in the league.
Detroit’s punter, Sam Martin, is in his seventh NFL season, and so far in 2019, he has punted 37 times for a net average of 40.3 yards per punt, 30th best in the league.
Dallas’ placekicker, Brett Maher, is in his second NFL season, both with the Cowboys.
Maher has made 14-of-20 field goals in 2019, his longest a 63 yarder, and so far, he has missed no extra point attempts (29/29).
Detroit’s placekicker, Matt Prater, is in his 13th NFL season (6th with the Lions).
Prater has gone 17-for-20 this season, his longest a 55-yarder, and he has missed one extra point attempt (22/23).
Dallas’ main punt returner, wide receiver Tavon Austin, is in his seventh NFL season, his second with the Cowboys.
Austin has returned 10 punts for 56 yards and 0 touchdowns this year, averaging 5.6 yards per return.
Detroit’s punt returner, cornerback Jamal Agnew, is ranked 43rd in the league in return average.
Agnew has returned 13 punts for 54 yards, averaging 4.2 yards per return, his longest for 24 yards.
Just the fact that the Cowboys’ placekicker has missed six field goals puts them at a total disadvantage, so give the advantage on special teams to the Lions in this one.
Across the board, the Dallas Cowboys are the better team here, and they will win if they show up and play the way they have in the past when they’ve beaten divisional rivals like the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants, twice.
Dak Prescott is the second most productive quarterback in the league right now, and he will be throwing against a Detroit pass defense that’s ranked fifth-worst in the league, so if he just shows up with his arm attached he and Amari “Tippy Toe” Cooper should be able to make easy work of these Lions.
This would also be a good time for Zeke to break out – the Lions are only 26th against the run – and what better way for him to build some postseason confidence than by traveling on the road and running for 100+ yards and some touchdowns in front of someone else’s noisy hometown crowd.
The Detroit Lions will only beat the much better Dallas Cowboys if they figure out a way to shut down Ezekiel Elliott so that Dak Prescott must run a one-dimensional, pass-heavy offense that will be far easier to defend against.
A big factor in a Lions win will be whether Matthew Stafford is healthy – if he can’t suit up, it will be tough for second-year backup Jeff Driskel to get the job done as we saw in Week 10 in the Lions’ loss to the Chicago Bears where he threw for one touchdown and an interception.
The Detroit Lions will be playing at home so the chances of them winning are increased, if they can keep the interest of their hometown crowd, that is, and that will take some serious game planning by head coach Matt Patricia if he expects to somehow shut down the best offense in the league.
Dallas Cowboys by almost a touchdown, that is if the real Dak and Zeke can show up and play football the way they are capable of.
John Breech of CBS Sports predicts the score as Cowboys 27, Lions 20.
My prediction for the final score is Cowboys 30, Lions 24.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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