Game Predictions & Player Projections - DET vs. DAL

David Dorey, @DMDorey

Prediction: DET 17, DAL 23 (Line: DAL by 7, O/U = 43)

UPDATE: Theo Riddick still has not practiced because of his wrist and I am removing him form the projections. He had not been completely ruled out but is unlikely to play. Though they have already clinched everything, the Cowboys still contend that they will play this game out and not rest any starters. At the least, there is a rookie rushing record to chase for Ezekiel.

This is the Monday night game and should be a very well watched game after Christmas. The 12-2 Cowboys are 6-1 at home and seem unbeatable to non-Giants. The Cowboys can wrap up the #1 seed and the NFC East with a win here (or if the Giants lost in Philly on Thursday). The 9-5 Lions are just one game ahead of the Packers and face them next week so aside from the seeding implications, a win or a loss here doesn't lose or secure the NFC North. The most revealing stat - the Lions are only 3-4 on the road and have not beaten team on the road that currently has a winning record.

Detroit Lions

1 @IND 39-35 10 BYE ---
2 TEN 15-16 11 JAC 26-19
3 @GB 27-34 12 MIN 16-13
4 @CHI 14-17 13 @NO 28-13
5 PHI 24-23 14 CHI 20-17
6 LA 31-28 15 @NYG 6-17
7 WAS 20-17 16 @DAL ---
8 @HOU 13-20 17 GB ---
9 @MIN 22-16      
News | Stats | Roster
DET @ DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford 270,2
RB Dwayne Washington 30 2-10
RB Zach Zenner 20 3-30
WR Anquan Boldin 4-40,1
WR Marvin Jones Jr. 4-50
WR Golden Tate 7-90,1
TE Eric Ebron 4-40
PK Matt Prater 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: No arguing - the Lions defense has has been quietly outstanding this year and not allowed more than 20 points in the last eight games. The offense has struggled on occasion and hasn't been able to come up big other than against weak defenses. A win this week would reverse all their trends but then again, they would have to reverse all their trends to win here.

QUARTERBACK : Matt Stafford continues to play with his gloved throwing hand to protect the ligament-damaged middle finger and he threw for 273 yards in New York last week. But he did not score and hasn't managed more than two touchdowns in the last seven games played. After a hot start for the first half of the year, Stafford has only thrown for more than 300 yards once and that was against the Saints. Since Week three, Stafford has averaged around 250 yards per game.

RUNNING BACK : Not a strength. More like a glaring need. The Lions have not produced any rusher with more than 70 yards in any game. They have only rushed in three touchdowns and two of those came in the season opener in Indianapolis. Theo Riddick never practiced last week because of his wrist so I will hold him out pending practice and status reports. In his place Dwayne Washington and Zach Zenner offer only mediocre production. The Lions have scored five times with a back as a receiver but all of those went to Riddick who is hurt. It is rare for any back here to top 50 yards in any game.

WIDE RECEIVER : Golden Tate remains the only wideout of any real note here. He had three 100 yard games and three touchdowns on the season. He typically ends up with 60+ yards per game and is the only wideout with more than 70 yards in a game since mid-season. Anquan Boldin leads the group with seven touchdowns but almost never gained more than 50 yards in any game. Marvin Jones hasn't scored since Week 6 and hasn't gained more than 41 yards in a road game since Week 4. If anything happens here, Tate gets the credit.

TIGHT END : Eric Ebron has been hampered by a balky knee recently and he had not managed more than four catches of 38 yards since Week 11. Ebron hasn't caught a score since the opener but was more productive in road games during the first half of the season.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Cowboys have been great against the run this year and more so at home where only two running backs have scored and none have broken 100 yards. That is no concern with the Lions backfield. There is no fantasy play there even if Riddick is healthy aside from his receptions.

The Cowboys have been weaker against the pass and mostly the wide receivers. But Stafford hasn't thrown for more than two scores in months and his yardage remains moderate since no player is turning in a big game. Tate is a strong start this week and should at least total solid to big yards with a chance of a score. Boldin is a play for mediocre yardage but a 50/50 shot at a touchdown. Ebron would be a stronger play but hasn't managed to produce more than minor yardage for over a month.

Stafford and Tate are worth considering here and there is upside for both. Stafford came from Dallas as well though again - this game really doesn't matter like Week 17 will.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 13 28 10 24 7 19
Preventing Fantasy Points DAL 15 1 16 27 8 4

Dallas Cowboys

1 NYG 19-20 10 @PIT 35-30
2 @WAS 27-23 11 BAL 27-17
3 CHI 31-17 12 WAS 31-26
4 @SF 24-17 13 @MIN 17-15
5 CIN 28-14 14 @NYG 7-10
6 @GB 30-16 15 TB 26-20
7 BYE --- 16 DET ---
8 PHI 29-23 17 @PHI ---
9 @CLE 35-10      
News | Statistics | Roster
DAL vs DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Dak Prescott 20 250,1
RB Ezekiel Elliott 110,1 3-20
WR Cole Beasley 5-50
WR Dez Bryant 5-70,1
WR Terrance Williams 3-30
TE Jason Witten 7-60
PK Dan Bailey 3 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: After losing to the Giants and setting the media into a "quarterback controversy!" frenzy that never really existed, the Cowboys beat the Buccaneers and everything is good again for at least a week. The best of all worlds is to win here and take the #1 seed with the homefield implications and then the finale in Philly doesn't matter. A home win would reward the fans but this will be against one of the tougher defenses that they have yet faced and recent weeks suggest that should keep game scores low where the Lions want them.

QUARTERBACK : Dak Prescott did not score last week via the pass, but he completed 32 of 36 for 279 yards and he ran in a touchdown. That was the first game since Week 2 that Prescott failed to record a passing score but in fairness he had a couple of touchdowns dropped. Last week was the first time that Prescott had not accounted for two or more scores in a home game since the season opener.

RUNNING BACK : Ezekiel Elliott comes off a season best 159 yards and a score on 23 runs with three catches for 29 more yards. He's already rushed for over 100 yards in seven games and scored 14 times. He is a lock for 100 total yards and a strong bet for 100 rushing yards and a score in any home game.

WIDE RECEIVER : Cole Beasley chugs along with around 50 yards per week no matter the venue or opponent but has been held scoreless since Week 11. Dez Bryant struggled against the Giants but has been solid with around 80 yards per week otherwise. He ended with a season high eight receptions for 82 yards against the Buccaneers though he dropped a touchdown.

TIGHT END : Jason Witten produced fewer than 50 yards in almost every game and scored only twice this year. He accounted for a season high 10 catches for 51 yards versus the Buccaneers last week and becomes a factor when facing teams that are weak against the position.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Lions have only allowed three rushing touchdowns this year and only two players ran for more than 100 yards on them. But this is Elliott at home - a safe bet for at least a good game with the ever-present specter of a monster effort.

The Lions have been solid against the pass since mid season but mostly faced only average offenses. Prescott hasn't thrown for more than one score for the last four games and that's very likely to continue here though as always he can score via a run.

Witten is a consideration this week versus a defense that has given up eight touchdowns to tight ends over their seven road games. Witten is always a risk for mediocre yardage but the situation is as good as any he has faced.

Bryant is a safe start here though the secondary has been good and only allowed three 100 yard efforts by a wideout all year. Even Odell Beckham only managed 64 yards against them last week. CB Darius Slay injured his hamstring and may not play but he would have matched on Terrance Williams anyway.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 9 4 13 21 9 27
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 20 6 14 29 9 6

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