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Lions vs. Cowboys preview: 5 questions with Blogging the Boys

As Mike Payton would say, “Getting to know the bad guys.”

Minnesota Vikings v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Well, things could only go up from here, right Lions fans?


The Lions host the red-hot Cowboys on Sunday, and will get their defense torn to pieces by one of the two best offenses this team has seen thus far. If you are stuck in the middle of the debate over whether Dak Prescott is good or not, you’ll exit Sunday a believer. If you’re one of those people who can’t stand to hear “FEED ZEKE,” tape your ears shut on Sunday.

We asked Blogging the Boys’ Dave Halprin some questions about what to expect Sunday:

1. There hasn’t been as much Ezekiel Elliott hype as usual this year. Is he having a down year, or are other running backs like Dalvin Cook stealing the spotlight?

Zeke is still having a pretty productive year but there are a couple of reasons you might not be feeling the “hype” like previous years. One is the change in the Cowboys offense. Under Scott Linehan, the Cowboys were very run-focused and were reliant on Zeke carrying the load. They tended to be conservative with the ball and use long marches down the field powered by Zeke. This year, under Kellen Moore, the offense has become more varied and the ball is being put in the hands of Dak Prescott more and he is utilizing his talented receiving corps to create big plays for the offense. So the focus has changed.

Secondly, while Zeke is still productive, he hasn’t been ripping off big “chunk” runs that tend to make the highlight reels. He isn’t getting the 55-yard TD runs and things of that nature that tend to stand out. He also hasn’t broken a big screen pass for long yards like he usually does a few times a year. His game this year has been consistent but unspectacular.

2. What are the biggest differences between Jason Garrett’s offense last season and Kellen Moore’s this season?

Well, last year’s offense wasn’t really Jason Garrett’s, it was Scott Linehan’s. The difference between Linehan and Moore has been to move guys around more and utilize various formations and pre-snap motion, and also an effort to get more vertical in the passing game to hit on big plays. The Cowboys old offense was very stale, they didn’t disguise much of what they were doing and they weren’t really trying to “scheme” guys open. It was more of a “line up and beat your man” deal. Moore is trying to get the defense unbalanced and guessing wrong pre-snap and he’s using more play-action to get the receivers open in space. Dak Prescott has also been pushing the ball down field more than he did under the old offense.

3. Who is the Cowboys’ MVP thus far?

Without a doubt it’s Dak Prescott. As mentioned, he’s pushing the ball down field more and he’s been very successful in doing that. He is second in the NFL in passing yards, second in yards per attempt, tied for third in TDs, first in QBR, and his ratings in advanced analytics are similar. He is having a great year and his footwork and passing mechanics are looking better than ever. He is also doing a better job of reading defenses and getting the Cowboys into correct play-calls. Running a close second in the MVP race is Amari Cooper.

4. What’s the weakest unit on the Cowboys, and do you see it being a problem on Sunday?

The Cowboys linebackers have been an issue this year. It is surprising considering last year they were spectacular and over the offseason they were being touted as one of the best units in the league. This year, though, they have been very inconsistent and in some games have been unable to slow down the opposing run game. Bad angles, shoddy tackling etc. have plagued this unit. Additionally, the defensive tackles have been weak creating an issue in the middle of the defense that teams have exploited. In the secondary, corner Chidobe Awuzie has had problems locating the football and has given up too many big plays.

5. The evergreen mystery of the NFL: is Dak Prescott good?

Short answer: Yes. He’s been good his whole time in the NFL. People tend to overlook his accomplishments by saying it’s all Zeke, or it’s his offensive line. This year has put all of that to rest. Prescott is killing it.