Dallas Cowboys (12-4)
Schedule so far
Week 1 - vs. 49ers - lost, 28-17
Week 2 - at Titans - won, 26-10
Week 3 - at Rams - won, 34-31
Week 4 - vs. Saints - won, 38-17
Week 5 - vs. Texans - won, 20-17 (OT)
Week 6 - at Seahawks - won, 30-23
Week 7 - vs. Giants - won, 31-21
Week 8 - vs. Redskins - lost, 20-17 (OT)
Week 9 - vs. Cardinals - lost, 28-17
Week 10 - at Jaguars (in London) - won, 31-17
Week 12 - at Giants - won, 31-28
Week 13 - vs. Eagles - lost, 33-10
Week 14 - at Bears - won, 41-28
Week 15 - at Eagles - won, 38-27
Week 16 - vs. Colts - won, 42-7
Week 17 - at Redskins - won, 44-17
Reasons for optimism
Sunday's game certainly looks daunting given how the Cowboys have been playing as of late, but keep in mind that they're only 4-4 at home this season. What's more, keep in mind that the Cowboys' biggest strength, their running game, feeds right into the Lions' biggest strength, their run defense. If the Lions can contain DeMarco Murray and not let Dez Bryant go wild, they could certainly win this game. That's obviously a huge "if" with Ndamukong Suh being suspended and when you consider that the Packers had a lot of success on the ground and through the air in Week 17, but the Lions still have one of the top defenses in the NFL, and Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson have fared quite well against the Cowboys in the past.
Reasons for pessimism
You may want to avert your eyes from the following stat:
Still with us? Things aren't about to get more promising:
Tony Romo finished with #1 passer rating. DeMarco Murray led NFL in rushing yards. Dez Bryant led in rec TDs. The Triplets never did that.— Football Perspective (@fbgchase) December 29, 2014
Yeah, the Cowboys are good. They are clicking at the right time, and they have really been rolling lately. Their offense features the NFL's top running back and really the best offensive line, and Tony Romo is playing like an MVP candidate. And even the defense is still making a ton of plays after being embarrassingly bad a year ago. Scott Linehan and Rod Marinelli have really helped turn this Cowboys team around, and they could very well help end the Lions' season on Sunday.
Storyline to watch
We've already covered several of the storylines that are worth watching in this game, but the main one is the simple fact that this is the playoffs we're talking about. Whatever did or did not happen in the regular season is in the past, and the Lions now have an opportunity to make a postseason run. They may not be able to even get out of the starting blocks come Sunday, but anything can happen in the playoffs.
For more on the Cowboys, check out Blogging The Boys.