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In-Depth Prediction, Preview, and Odds

Cowboys vs. Lions Prediction

Sunday, November 17, 2019 at 1:00pm EST
Ford Field, Detroit

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In-depth Coverage

This is an in-depth analysis of this game, covering every possible detail and angle. Use the table of contents to navigate between each section, or just jump on in!

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Table of Contents

Last Updated: Sunday, November 17, 2019 at 8:33am EST

Introduction

The Dallas Cowboys will head on the road to battle the Detroit Lions in week 11 NFC action Sunday afternoon from Ford Field. The Cowboys fell 28-24 to the Vikings on Sunday night, and the Lions are coming off a 20-13 road loss to the Bears. The Cowboys recorded a 26-24 home win against the Lions last season.

Dallas Cowboys Review

The Dallas Cowboys enter this game locked in a first-place tie with the Eagles in the NFC East. Dallas has their two-game winning streak snapped in a tough 28-24 home loss to the Vikings on Sunday night. 

Dak Prescott continues to excel, tossing six touchdown passes in his last two games. The fourth-year quarterback accumulated a remarkable 397 passing yards against the Vikings, and he has racked up 2777 passing yards with an 18:9 TD to INT ratio on the year.

Watch for Ezekiel Elliot in this game. The 24-year old running back has amassed at least 100 rushing yards in three out of his last four games, and he should exploit the Lions in this game. Elliot is up to 788 rushing yards. Amari Cooper was targeted frequently last week, and I expect the same in this one. The talented 24-year old receiver has collected 848 receiving yards. The Cowboys offense continues to lead the NFL with an average of 437 total yards per game.

The Dallas defense had some trouble last week, but overall this unit has been stellar for most of the season. Their pass defense, which stands sixth in the NFL, will be tested heavily if Stafford plays. The Cowboys are scoring an average of 27.9 points, good for sixth in the NFL. They are holding opponents to 18.9 points, positioning them sixth overall. Dallas owns a 2-2 road record.

Detroit Lions Review

The Detroit Lions have dropped five out of their last six games overall to fall out of the playoff picture. The biggest storyline surrounding the Lions is the status of Matthew Stafford. The veteran QB did not play in the loss to the Bears last week due to a back injury. Stafford is having yet another productive season, accumulating 2499 passing yards with a dazzling 19:5 TD to INT ratio in eight games. If Stafford cannot play, Jeff Driskel, who tallied 267 passing yards against the Bears, will start.

The Lions running game has not found a groove this season. They are going to have trouble generating significant yards on the ground due to the extended absence of second-year RB Kerryon Johnson who is on the IR. Matt Patricia has gone with J.D. McKissic and Ty Johnson on the ground in his place. McKissic has tallied 176 rushing yards while Johnson has 153 yards. Both will have trouble against a strong Cowboys’ rush defense.

The Lions have a talented set of receivers led by Kenny Golladay. The 26-year old has accrued over 100 receiving yards in two out of his last three games, and he is up to 697 receiving yards. The Lions offense hasn’t been their issue this season.

The Detroit defense has been a disappointment this season, especially considering head coach Matt Patricia is supposed to be a defensive-minded coach. Detroit stands 27th against in pass defense and 26th against the run. The Lions are currently averaging 24.1 points, ranking them 14th in the NFL.  They are conceding an average of 26.3 points, pegging them 24th overall. Detroit is 2-2 at Ford Field.

The Running Game

Dallas Cowboys Running Offense
vs. Detroit Lions Running Defense

Dallas Cowboys Running Offense

The Cowboys are also a big threat on the ground. Ezekiel Elliot wasn’t at his best against the Vikings stifling defense last week, notching only 47 yards, but he accrued a season-high 139 yards against the Giants at the beginning of the month. The 24-year old running back has notched 788 rushing yards on an average of 4.4 yards per attempt on the season. Elliot has surprisingly only had one rush of over 20 yards this season.

“Because I know what type of team we have. We have a lot of talent in this locker room. We could be a really good team,” Elliott said. “We’ve just got to make sure that we go out and put that on the field. Yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of football left. A lot of football left. A lot of time to get better. You definitely don’t want to be peaking right now, so I mean, we’ve just got to get back to work and keep grinding.”

-Ezekiel Elliot after the loss to the Vikings last week.

Source: (APnews)

Tony Pollard is a solid #2 RB. The 22-year old doesn’t see many carries although he has still managed to rush for 226 yards.

Dallas also has an elite offensive line which creates plenty of holes for Elliot. The o-line includes right guard Zack Martin who is one of the best interior offensive linemen in the NFL.

Detroit Lions Run Defense

Matt Patricia was hoping for better results from the Lions rush defense. Overall it has been another disappointing season against the run, ranking 26th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game. Detroit has a good defensive line on paper but it has not translated to success.

Defensive tackles Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison Sr. has the reputation as one of the best run stuffers in the league but hasn’t been quite as effective as expected. Harrison Sr. has made 28 tackles and only three tackles for a loss. Defensive end Trey Flowers has been decent, recording eight tackles for a loss.

Linebacker Jarrad Davis also hasn’t performed to par. The former first-round pick out of Florida State is one of the worst linebackers according to PFF. Davis misses assignments often. His greatest strength is supposed to be his ability to stop the run. Davis has made 3.5 tackles for a loss. Jahlani Tavai has been a bright spot. The rookie linebacker has accrued 4.5 tackles for a loss.

Lions’ safety Tracy Walker is having a great season in his second year. Walker has missed the last two games with a knee injury and is questionable for this one. The 24-year old leads Detroit with 56 combined tackles and five tackles for a loss. Detroit has stuffed the opposing runner only 12% of the time, well below the NFL average of 19%.

Stats

Rushing Attempts per Game: 29 (7th)

Rushing Yards: 1244 (6th)

Average Rushing Yards Per Game: 138.2 (5th)

Average Rushing Yards Per Carry: 4.8 (6th)

Opponent Carries Per Game 28.1 (26th)

Opponent Rushing Yards: 1167 (23rd)

Opponent Rushing Yards Per Game: 129.7 (26th)

Opponent Rushing Yards Per Carry: 4.6 (23rd)

Who has the Edge?

The Cowboys have the edge here. The Lions have not fared well against good running backs this season. They surrendered 120 yards to Raiders’ RB Josh Jacobs, and Vikings’ RB Dalvin Cook accumulated 142 yards. Ezekiel Elliot is an elite running back that will shine against a rush defense allowing an average of 129.7 yards per game.

Advantage: Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions Running Offense
vs. Dallas Cowboys Running Defense

Detroit Lions Running Offense

The Lions currently do not have the tools to generate big yards on the ground due to the absence of Kerryon Johnson. The second-year RB has landed on the IR for the second straight season after logging 308 rushing yards which has impacted the Lions offense. Detroit now has to lean heavily on their passing offense in Johnson’s absence. This is nothing new as Detroit had an awful running game before drafting Johnson.

Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic have received a bulk of the carries in place of Kerryon. McKissic has fared well, filing 176 rushing yards on 30 attempts, good for an average of 5.9 yards per attempt. The 26-year old RB saw a season-high 10 carries last week against a great Bears rush defense, and he also added a season-best six receptions.

Unfortunately, Ty Johnson is dealing with a concussion and is listed as questionable for this one. Johnson has tallied 153 rushing yards on 44 carries. McKissic will see a bulk of the carries if Ty Johnson does not play.

Dallas Cowboys Run Defense

The Cowboys rush defense hasn’t been quite as effective as their pass defense. They struggled last week, surrendering 153 yards to a Vikings team that features the #3 rushing offense in the NFL. Dallas should get back on track against a Lions team that doesn’t generate a ton of yards on the ground.

Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch are both solid against the run. Smith leads Dallas with a combined 81 tackles which includes five tackles for a loss, while Vander Esch is second in team tackles with 67 accompanied with four tackles for a loss.

DeMarcus Lawrence is outstanding against the run as well. He leads the team with nine tackles for a loss. Sean Lee is also a big part of the Dallas defense. The eight-year veteran linebacker has accrued a combined 37 tackles. The Cowboys have forced 10 fumbles and according to Football Outsiders, they have a 17% stuff percentage, placing them just below the average of 19%.

Stats

Detroit:

Rushing Attempts per Game: 26 (14th)

Rushing Yards: 866 (22nd)

Average Rushing Yards Per Game: 96.2 (20th)

Average Rushing Yards Per Carry: 3.7 (26th)

Dallas:

Opponent Carries Per Game 24.4 (12th)

Opponent Rushing Yards: 931 (12th)

Opponent Rushing Yards Per Game: 103.4 (14th)

Opponent Rushing Yards Per Carry: 4.2 (15th)

Who has the Edge?

The Cowboys rush defense definitely has the decisive edge. The absence of Lions #1 RB Kerryon Johnson has put a damper on the Lions production on the ground. They weren’t posting big numbers on the ground before his injury either. They have failed to surpass 100 rushing yards on most games, and the Cowboys have a strong rush defense that should have no problem shutting down the run. Lastly, the Lions do not run frequently as 60% of their plays are in the air.

Advantage: Dallas Cowboys

The Passing Game

Dallas Cowboys Passing Offense
vs. Detroit Lions Passing Defense

Dallas Cowboys Passing Offense

The Cowboys feature a prolific passing offense that is consistently producing and they have established one of the most dangerous offensive units in the game. They have been especially sharp in their last two games which included nearly 400 passing yards against a solid Vikings defense last week.

Dak Prescott is having a fantastic season, accumulating 2777 passing yards with an 18:9 TD to INT ratio. The fourth-year QB has registered at least 230 passing yards in all but one game this season. Prescott will make some mistakes as he has tossed at least one interception in three straight games.

“I’m not going to question the play-calling,” Prescott said. “There were opportunities. We just have to do a better job at executing those plays.”

-Dak Prescott on the playing calling in the loss to the Vikings. (Source: APnews):

Prescott has terrific chemistry with Amari Cooper. The 25-year old is having a tremendous season in his first year in Dallas, bringing in 848 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Cooper will likely be lined up against Lions' top corner Darius Slay in this one.

Second-year receiver Michael Gallup is also having a breakout season, amassing 530 receiving yards on 33 receptions. Gallup posted 76 receiving yards against the Vikings last week. Tight end Jason Witten has 338 receiving yards, and Randall Cobb is third in team receiving with 380 yards.

Detroit Lions Passing Defense

The Lions pass defense continues to have trouble. Mitch Trubisky, who is having an awful year, was to throw for three touchdowns against Detroit last week. Overall they have not been able to shut down opposing QB’s. Detroit does not have a dangerous pass rush. Trey Flowers leads the way with five sacks, while linebacker Devon Kennard has four. The Lions have only made 19 total sacks on the year.

The Lions do feature one of the top corners in the NFL in Darius Slay. The 28-year old has made three pass deflections and one pick. He has been to the Pro Bowl in two straight seasons. Overall Slay hasn’t been quite as good as season’s past, but opposing QB’s also do not throw his way too often. Slay has allowed 16 receptions on 28 targets. He will be guarding Amari Copper in this one.

The Lions' #2 CB Rashaan Melvin is targeted heavily by opposing QB’s. He has been targeted 52 times. The 30-year old corner has broken up nine passes and has not made a pick. Lions safety Tracy Walker has broken up five passes, while Tavon Wilson has two pass deflections.

Stats

Dallas:

Passes Completed: 218 (11th)

Average Yards Per Completion: 8.7 (1st)

Passing Yards Per Game: 299.2 (3rd)

Passing Touchdowns: 18 (5th)

Detroit:

Opponent Passing Yards Per Game: 272.4 (28th)

Opponent Passes Completed: 205 (12th)

Opponent Completion Percentage: 61%: (5th)

Opponent TD Passes: 19: (27th)

Who has the Edge?

Dallas should exploit the Lions in the air. Detroit is surrendering an average of over 270 passing yards per game which is a mismatch against Dallas who is averaging 300 passing yards per game. The Cowboys will pass more than they run and Prescott has too many weapons at his disposal for Detroit to contain. Darius Slay is a good corner but other than him I don’t see how they will contain Prescott. Detroit won’t generate any pressure on Prescott who will have lots of time in the pocket.

Advantage: Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions Passing Offense
vs. Dallas Cowboys Passing Defense

Detroit Lions Passing Offense

The Lions passing game is their greatest team strength but it all depends on Matthew Stafford. The veteran QB is day-to-day with broken bones in his back which does not sound very encouraging. There is a decent chance he will miss multiple games. Stafford is having a productive season, logging 2499 passing yards with a 19:5 TD to INT ratio, and he has the ability to keep his team in games.

If Stafford does not play, Jeff Driskel will be under center. The 26-year old QB fared reasonably well in his lone action last week against the Bears, collecting 269 passing yards with one touchdown against one interception. Driskel owns a 10:7 TD to INT ratio in 10 career games. He has a few talented receivers to target downfield.

“No updates on him,” Patricia said, via video from the team. “Again it is truly day by day, week by week right now as far as he’s concerned. You know he practiced all last week, so we’ll move ahead with kind of a similar plan as we go forward this week.”

-Matt Patricia’s update on Stafford on Monday. Note that Stafford did not practice on Wednesday.

Detroit features one of the better young receivers in the game in Kenny Golladay. The third-year receiver will eclipse 1200 receiving yards on the season if Stafford does not miss extended time. Golladay has surpassed 100 receiving yards four times this season, and he has 697 receiving yards on the season.

Marvin Jones Jr. is also having a superb season. The 29-year old WR recently accumulated 126 receiving yards against the Raiders, and he has made 34 catches in his last four games. Jones Jr. has tallied 612 receiving yards on the season.

T.J. Hockensen was the Lions top pick in the past draft and he is having an encouraging rookie season. The former Iowa Hawkeye has accrued 343 receiving yards and will only get better as he gains more experience.

Update: (11/15): Stafford will not play according to head coach Matt Patricia, who made that announcement on Friday. According to ESPN.com's Adam Schefter, Stafford has fractured bones in his back. That means Jeff Driskel will get the start once again this week.

Dallas Cowboys Passing Defense

Dallas features a terrific pass defense that stands sixth in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game. They feature a solid pass rush led by defensive their ends. DeMarcus Lawrence has picked up 4.5 sacks and Robert Quinn leads Dallas with 7.5 sacks in only seven games played.

The Cowboys have only made four interceptions on the season but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a strong secondary. Byron Jones is regarded as one of the top corners in the NFL. Jones has broken up four passes and has allowed 20 receptions on 34 targets from opposing QB’s. Chidobe Awuzie leads the way with seven deflected passes accompanied by one pick. The 24-year-old corner has allowed 31 receptions on 41 targets.

Free safety Xavier Woods is having a great season, leading Dallas with two interceptions. He is also third in team tackles with 51. Strong safety Jeff Heath has broken up four passes. The 28-year old is questionable for this one with a shoulder injury.

Stats

Detroit:

Passes Completed: 214 (13th)

Average Yards Per Completion: 8.2 (5th)

Passing Yards Per Game: 291.2 (4th)

Passing Touchdowns: 20 (3rd)

Dallas:

Opponent Passing Yards Per Game: 219.8 (6th)

Opponent Passes Completed: 212 (21st)

Opponent Completion Percentage: 66%: (24th)

Opponent TD Passes: 9: (5th)

Who has the Edge?

If Matt Stafford plays I give the edge to the Lions. Stafford has accumulated at least 340 passing yards in three consecutive games. He has great chemistry with both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. If he doesn’t suit up the Cowboys should contain Jeff Driskel who has limited experience. Driskel has only played in 10 games in his NFL career. Dallas features a strong secondary and they are holding opponents to an average of 220 passing yards per game.

Advantage: Push

Intangibles

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys kicker Brett Maher will miss some field goals. He has converted on 14 of his 20 field goal attempts for a 70% percentage. He has one miss in the 30-39 yard range and is 4 for 8 on field goals above 50 yards. Maher's longest was a remarkable 63-yarder.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has qualified for the playoffs in three of his 10 seasons with the Cowboys, and he has yet to win a playoff game. Garrett owns an 82-63 career head coaching record.

Detroit Lions

Lions’ kicker Matt Prater is one of the best in the game. The veteran has connected on 17 of his 20 field goals on the season. Prater is a stellar 6 for 7 from field goals beyond 50 yards. His longest as a 55-yarder.

Lions second-year coach Matt Patricia has not displayed the ability to be a solid NFL head coach yet. The Lions went 6-10 in his first season, and Patricia is now 9-15-1 as a head coach. He has made a few bad decisions this season, and the Lions defense has underperformed on his watch.

Who has the Edge?

I am calling this a draw. The Lions definitely have the kicking advantage with the reliable Matt Prater, while Cowboys kicker Brett Maher has missed six field goals. Dallas has the coaching edge under Jason Garrett while Matt Patricia has yet to prove he can be a great coach.

Advantage: Push

Final Outlook

I expect the Cowboys to win this game by more than a touchdown. Dallas has the edge in all areas and Matt Stafford has been officially ruled out. The Lions have dropped five of their last six games overall, and their last three losses occurred by at least seven points. Detroit won’t be able to generate significant yards on the ground due to the absence of #1 RB Kerryon Johnson, and Dallas is outstanding against the run. The Cowboys also feature a great pass defense that is limiting opponents to 219.8 total yards per game. Lions' backup QB Jeff Driskel will not be able to solve the Cowboys defense.

This pick is strengthened when analyzing the Lions defense. Detroit is allowing an average of 272 passing yards per game, pegging them 28th in the NFL, and Prescott continues to rack up the passing yards. The Lions rush defense is supposed to be a strength, but stand down at 26th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, so I anticipate a productive performance from Elliot.

The top supporting trends found on covers.com are as follows:

The Detroit Lions are:

0-4 ATS in their last 4 games overall.

1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight-up loss.

1-5 ATS in their last 6 home games against a team with a winning road record.

The Dallas Cowboys are:

5-1 ATS in their last 6 November games,

4-1 ATS in their last 5 games against a team with a losing record.

8-2 ATS in their last 10 road games against a team with a losing home record.

Latest Updates, Injury Reports, and Line Movements

Injuries

All eyes have been monitoring the status of Matt Stafford. The Lions’ QB did not practice all week and he officially will not play in this game. Jeff Driskel has the challenging task of solving a good Cowboys defense. Offensive lineman Rick Wagner and defensive tackle Da’Shawn Hand are also not playing.

Damon Harrison Sr., who is one of the Lions’ best run stuffers is questionable, along with defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson. RB Ty Johnson has recovered from a concussion and will play.

The Cowboys are not dealing with many significant injuries right now. Right tackle La’el Collins is questionable while safety Jeff Heath is also listed as questionable on the final injury report which is their biggest injury. Offensive lineman Connor Williams is the only Dallas player listed as out for this game with the exception of their players that are on the IR.

The line on this game has fluctuated. The Cowboys opened as 3.5 point favorites and are currently favored by seven points as of Saturday afternoon after it was revealed that Stafford won’t play.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys

Second Opinion on this pick from StatSalt.com

Additional Insiders' Best Bets

Full-game Total Bet

Insiders Status:

Rating:

I expect this total to go over. A big reason I prefer the over is because of the Lions' poor defense. They have squandered an average of 34 points in their last three home games. Dallas has a productive passing and rushing offense that will have its way. The Cowboys have scored 37 points in two out of their last three games, and I definitely expect over 30 points in this game, plus the over is 5-1 in the Cowboys' last six road games.

In addition, while I don’t expect a ton of offense from the Lions if Stafford doesn’t play, they are usually productive at Ford Field where they have scored over 30 points in three consecutive games. While I don’t expect 30 points, I expect enough to allow the over to cash. The over is a convincing 7-1 in the last eight meetings between these NFC foes.

Prediction: Over

Full-game Prop Bet

Insiders Status:

Rating:

The over on the Cowboys team total available on PointsBet is a solid option. The Lions rank 30th in the NFL with an average of 402.1 total yards allowed per game. Their defense has underperformed all season and I don’t see that changing against this offense. Prescott has secured three touchdown passes in two straight games. He was able to collect 397 passing yards against a good Vikings defense, and almost every QB has exploited the Lions pass defense this season.

Prediction: Cowboys Team Total: Over 27.5

Half-time Side Bet

Insiders Status:

Rating:

I am siding with the Lions on the halftime line. I expect Detroit to stay in this game for a while in front of the home crowd. They are averaging a solid 14.1 points in the first half, good for sixth in the NFL. I expect a big second-half from the Cowboys considering the Lions defense struggles in the second half where they are conceding an average of 14.4 points, placing them 30th in the league.

Prediction: Detroit Lions

Half-time Total Bet

Insiders Status:

Rating:

I am going with the under on the halftime total. Dallas is more of a second-half team. They lead the entire NFL with an average of 15.9 points in the second half compared to only 12 points in the opening half. Also, the Lions defense has held up reasonably well in the first half this season where they are holding opponents to 11.6 points.

Prediction: Under 23

Half-time Prop Bet

Insiders Status:

Rating:

Another prop worth a look is the over on Dak Prescott’s passing total. Detroit does not have an effective pass rush. They stand 26th in the NFL with only 19 sacks, and Dallas has a great offensive line. Prescott will have a ton of time in the pocket to spot open receivers. He has tallied at least 250 passing yards in four out of his last five games overall.

Prediction: Dak Prescott Passing Total: Over
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Written By Adam Rauzino

Adam has been a sports fanatic his entire life, closely following hockey, baseball, basketball and football. Adam enjoys analyzing various stats, as well as studying Sabermetrics and analytics to take his picks to a whole new level. Adam has a passion for writing about various sports as well as personal finance and has brought his talents to us here at Winners and Whiners. He graduated with a diploma in business marketing and business finance.