The final game of the NFL’s wild card weekend should be an entertaining event, as the Detroit Lions travel south to Jerry’s World to take on the Dallas Cowboys. The Lions have a great defense and Dallas possess one of the NFL’s most dynamic offenses, which makes for a very interesting matchup. In addition the game features two of the very best wide receivers in the league: Detroit’s Calvin Johnson and the Cowboys’ Dez Bryant.
#6 Detroit Lions (11-5) at #3 Dallas Cowboys (12-4) ★★★★★
Late Sunday game on FOX
Play-by-play: Joe Buck; Analyst: Troy Aikman; Sideline: Erin Andrews and Chris Myers
Final Line: Cowboys favored by 6½
Point Total: over/under 48
Money Line: Lions +220, Cowboys -260
Record Against The Spread: Lions 7-9, Cowboys 10-6
Over/Under: Lions 5 over, 11 under; Cowboys 9 over, 6 under, 1 push
Home/Away: Lions 4-4 on the road, Cowboys 4-4 at home
Turnover Differential: Lions plus-7 (T-6th), Cowboys plus-6 (T-9th)
Net Points Differential: Lions plus-39 (13th), Cowboys plus-115 (5th)
Points Scored: Lions 20.1 (22nd), Cowboys 29.2 (5th)
Yards per Game: Lions 341 (19th), Cowboys 384 (7th)
Giveaways: Lions 20 (T-6th), Cowboys 25 (20th)
Yards per Play: Lions 5.2 (21st), Cowboys 6.0 (3rd)
Third Down Conversion: Lions 38.6% (23rd), Cowboys 47.3% (2nd)
Yards per Point Efficiency: Lions 17.0 (25th), Cowboys 13.1 (3rd)
Red Zone TD Scoring: Lions 53.2% (17th), Cowboys 64.7% (2nd)
Points Allowed: Lions 17.6 (3rd), Cowboys 22.0 (15th)
Yards Allowed: Lions 301 (2nd), Cowboys 355 (19th)
Takeaways: Lions 27 (T-8th), Cowboys 31 (2nd)
Yards per Play: Lions 4.9 (4th), Cowboys 5.8 (26th)
Third Down Conversion: Lions 37.2% (9th), Cowboys 43.6% (27th)
Yards per Point Efficiency: Lions 17.1 (8th), Cowboys 16.1 (11th)
Red Zone TD Scoring: Lions 53.1% (17th), Cowboys 61.2% (27th)
Dallas has been one of the best in the NFL against the spread, perhaps a reflection that the betting public expected the Cowboys to stumble at some point like they have so many times in recent seasons. The Lions on the other hand appear to be overrated: they are the only playoff team with a losing record against the spread. Matt Stafford is a dismal 0-16 against teams with winning records on the road after losing a chance to get a first round bye in last week’s loss at Green Bay. As we saw in that game Detroit was definitely the better team on defense, but their inability to move the ball – against a so-so defense – was too much to overcome.
The Cowboys’ annual late season swoon is a thing of the past. Dallas scored 165 points in December, including three games with more than 40 points. The Dallas defense, though not great, is holding its own, allowing just 24 points in the last two games to cap off a four-game winning streak. Between Tony Romo (who is completing 70% of his passes), Dez Bryant (an NFL-best 16 receiving touchdowns) and DeMarco Murray (1,845 yards rushing, 13 touchdowns, 4.7 yards per carry), Dallas has more than enough weapons to counter the Detroit defense. The Cowboys are very strong with their interior offensive line – center Travis Frederick and RG Zack Martin were both Pro Bowlers – and they should be able to limit the effectiveness of foot stomper Ndamukong Suh. The Detroit defense should be able to keep the score low and close, but I fully expect Dallas to win this game and move on to play Green Bay next week.
Pick • Cowboys 24, Lions 20
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