You’d be hard pressed to find a Detroit Lions fan with a lot of confidence going into Week 7, and for good reason. The team is still dealing with a laundry list of injuries, they’re coming off a drubbing at the hands of a mediocre New England Patriots team, and their defense can’t stop, well... anything.
But maybe we’re a little too close to the situation to view it clearly. Maybe we need an outsider’s perspective to properly assess Sunday’s matchup between the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys. Maybe we’re a little too focused in on the Lions’ side of things.
So as part of a new series we’re trying out (as inspired by both Bleeding Green Nation and Blogging The Boys), we asked Cowboys writer RJ Ochoa to give us three reasons why he believes the Lions could beat the Cowboys. To be clear, Ochoa is not predicting a Lions victory on Sunday—you can hear what his prediction is on our First Byte podcast—but we tasked him with giving us three reasons why they should or could. I did the same for Blogging the Boys here.
Here’s what Ochoa had to say.
The Dallas Cowboys defense is susceptible on the ground
Obviously the Cowboys have gotten a lot of attention this season for how great they have been defensively, and while it is certainly fair to believe in that side of the ball, they do have an obvious weakness.
The Cowboys defense on the surface is great as noted. From an overall perspective they rank 6th in DVOA there, but for what it’s worth they rank 3rd in passing and 17th in rushing. Dallas is coming off of a loss against the Philadelphia Eagles where they were unable to properly stop the run, but things were a little close for them against another division rival in the Washington Commanders three weeks ago because of this same issue. For whatever reason the Commanders bailed on the run game and the next week the Los Angeles Rams never really explored it.
We will see exactly who plays for the Lions this week but they obviously can get things done on the ground. It is certainly possible that they ride that to a potential win.
The offense may need some time to wake up
For the most part (every fan base has some bad apples) Cowboys fans are thrilled to see Dak Prescott return to action. It is my own personal belief that he is a top 10 quarterback and someone who can take what is an already-successful team to a new level this season, but it is very much worth mentioning that it has been a little bit since we have seen him thrive.
You may remember that Dak hit CeeDee Lamb for a game-winning touchdown against the New England Patriots last season. On that play he suffered a calf injury, the Cowboys were on their bye, and then Cooper Rush made his first career start in a win against the Minnesota Vikings (you are welcome), but when he returned things were hardly the same.
That was Week 6 of last year and after that game the Cowboys ranked 4th in offensive DVOA and 4th in pass offense specifically. They finished the year 6th in each of those respective categories and while that doesn’t signal a huge drop off the offense was pretty stagnant throughout December of last year.
It was this idea that served as a bit of a cloud over this current season’s beginning and matters were not helped by the trading of Amari Cooper, releasing of La’el Collins, and the team being the only one to not score a touchdown in Week 1 (obviously Dak was hurt in the loss).
There is more than enough talent and potential within Dak Prescott and this offense, but the last time we saw it things were not great. It is worth mentioning that Michael Gallup is back which wasn’t the case in the opener and that rookie Tyler Smith is much more accustomed to playing left tackle since he will not be making his first career start. But this offense is still at to-be-determined thing in a lot of senses.
The Eagles may have laid a blueprint of sorts for how to slow down Micah Parsons
My point here is not that Micah Parsons is bad or has been figured out. He is arguably the most dominant defensive player in the NFL right now. The sample size on his young career is still very small, but for the large majority of it he has been Elite and I capitalized that word for a reason.
It may be an exaggeration to say that last week against Philly was the worst game of his career, but it was definitely one of the less-effective performances that he has had in a Cowboys uniform. The Eagles were unafraid to challenge him and utilized Jalen Hurts’ skills in ways that put Micah in poor positions to succeed. Ultimately this is a testament to what they did as opposed to some sort of demerits against Micah, but to a degree offensive coordinators around the league could feel like there is now a blueprint for slowing him down.
Obviously the Lions (this is said with utmost respect) do not have the same offensive personnel that the Philadelphia Eagles do. But a combination of success on the ground with taking calculated risks could prove to help mitigate the damage that Micah could cause.