Dallas has been one of the NFL’s biggest surprises this year and has proved many people wrong. Detroit played week 17 with the NFC title on the line, ultimately falling to Green Bay. However, a playoff spot was already secured which sets up the Lions going toe-to-toe with the NFC East champion Cowboys.
The Cowboys have won four in a row and the Lions have won three of their past four. Dallas finished 12-4 while the Lions finished 11-5. Both teams played well in December and now look to do the same in January in hopes to play on the first day of February in the Super Bowl. Dallas was an unusual team at home this season, finishing 4-4 while Detroit finished 4-4 on the road. Something’s gotta give there.
The game will be most impacted in two areas The fist one will be the battle of the quarterbacks, Tony Romo and Matthew Stafford. The second, and arguably most important will be the Lion’s first-ranked rushing defense versus Dallas’s number one rushing game. Detroit’s front seven, led by defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, had 32 of the 42 team sacks, led by Suh with 8.5 and defensive end Ezekial Ansah with 7.5. Speaking of Suh, he nearly missed this game due to a suspension that was later overturned for stepping on Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers twice last weekend. Could this be the last game Suh plays in a Detroit uniform?
The Cowboys have built their offensive line up through the draft in recent years and this year it is paying off with the best rushing game to boast in the NFL. The offensive line has opened up numerous holes for DeMarco Murray, who led the league with 1,845 rushing yards, breaking the franchise record previously held by Hall of Famer Emmit Smith. Will the D-Line of Detroit be able to stop the NFL’s best running back or will the Dallas O-Line continue to excel?
Tony Romo and the month of December have never really gotten along, until this year. Romo led the Cowboys to a 4-0 December after the Thanksgiving night debacle against the Eagles. Romo threw 12 touchdowns and just one interception during the month of December. Stafford has put up a solid December as well throwing seven touchdowns and two interceptions, leading the Lions to a 3-1 record for the month heading into the playoffs. For the entire season, Romo has been sensational and is in the discussion for the MVP award throwing 34 touchdown to 9 interceptions. The Cowboys have benefitted from a balanced offensive attack. When the team is able to run the football, it opens up more opportunities for Romo, which he has taken advantage of most of the year. Romo will look for wide receiver Dez Bryant early and often. The Cowboys have a lethal three-headed attack in Romo, Murray, and Bryant, with the trio being a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators, and arguably the best trio in the NFL.
Stafford once again threw for over 4,000 yards with 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He was without star wideout Calvin Johnson for a portion of the season, but made up for it with Golden Tate. With Johnson and Tate on the field, it gives Stafford double the options to sling the ball to. Stafford is from the Dallas area and will look to put on a show for his hometown in Jerry World.
The game will come down to which quarterback makes the least amount of mistakes. Both quarterbacks will look to be precise in the passing game, which will help extend drives and give the defenses a rest. Stafford and Romo are both looking to show the league that they truly belong in the conversation of elite quarterbacks and are both looking to a deep playoff run. Stafford will look for his first playoff victory while Romo will be looking for win No. 2 in the postseason, but will look to avenge previous playoff blunders.