Big Picture: 5 Storylines For Cowboys & Lions

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Here are five quick storylines for each team to get us ready for the matchup Sunday in Detroit.

Lions

  • The Lions have been in the news this week because of the way they handled the Matthew Stafford injury that forced him out of last Sunday's game with the Bears. The NFL is looking into the matter on how the Lions reported the injury, but ultimately, Stafford didn't play. Lions head coach Matt Patricia said the injury is now in the "week-to-week" stage, and he hasn't given an update on Stafford's playing status for this week. Even with missing a game this weekend, Stafford ranks second in the NFL with 19 touchdown passes.
  • In Stafford's absence, the Lions turned to Jeff Driskel, a fourth-year pro who was in the same 2016 draft class as Dak Prescott. Driskel, a sixth-round pick of the 49ers, has only started six career games, including five last year with the Bengals before Sunday's game in Chicago. Driskel went 27 of 46 for 269 yards with a touchdown and an interception against the Bears.
  • The Lions are also playing backups at running back with Kerryon Johnson and Tra Carson both on IR. This past Sunday, J.D. McKissic took most of the snaps at running back, getting 10 carries for 36 yards with six catches out of the backfield for 19 yards. Ty Johnson should be available this week after being in the concussion protocol following the game.
  • Kenny Golladay leads the NFL in touchdown catches with eight, one ahead of Dallas' Amari Cooper. Golladay has four TD catches in the last three games, including the Lions' only touchdown last week in Chicago.
  • One storyline that likely won't affect the game but is something many in the Lions organization are dealing with is the sudden death of former receiver Charles Rogers. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, Rogers reportedly had battled cancer and his family is stating he passed due to liver failure. Rogers never came close to meeting expectations as a top pick, his career fizzling due to injuries and off-the-field issues. Expect the Lions to pay tribute to Rogers this weekend before the game against the Cowboys.

Cowboys

  • The aftermath of the Cowboys' loss to the Vikings has continued into Tuesday as there have been questions regarding the play-calling down in the red zone and even the decision to fair catch at the end of the game. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he doesn't second-guess the coaching staff on their decisions to run the ball on second and third down that ultimately failed and led to a turnover on downs. As for the fair catch by Tavon Austin that might've cost the Cowboys at least 15-20 return yards, head coach Jason Garrett said there was a miscommunication on the sidelines. "The part of it that we didn't communicate well enough was just simply if you do feel like you have a good return opportunity, take advantage of it. Catch it and go north and south and get as much as you could," Garrett said of Austin. "We did a poor job as a staff making sure he understood that. Hopefully we'll learn from that experience."
  • There should be a change in the starting lineup this week at left guard. Xavier Su'a-Filo is expected to start in place of Connor Williams, who will have microscopic surgery on his left knee. Williams should only be out 2-4 weeks and had a similar surgery on his right knee last year. Su'a-Filo filled in a year ago and gave the offensive line a spark down the stretch in the final eight games.
  • There could be other injuries to monitor on the offensive line this week. Guard Zack Martin is dealing with an elbow injury as well as a nagging back issue that has limited him in practice. Right tackle La'el Collins has a recent back injury that could keep him out of practice some this week.
  • The Cowboys' 5-4 record is head-scratching when you look at the statistics. The Cowboys still have a healthy lead in the rankings for No. 1 offense in the NFL. The team is averaging 437.4 yards per game, and ranks seventh in the NFL in total defense, yielding just 323.2 yards per game. The team also ranks sixth in scoring at 27.9 points a contest.
  • The Cowboys remain in first place in the NFC East, tied with the Eagles at 5-4. The Cowboys hold the current tiebreaker advantage with the victory over Philly on Oct. 20, but of course, the two teams will meet again on Dec. 22. Both teams will face the Patriots in the next two weeks, but the Eagles have a seemingly easier schedule down the stretch, with two games against the Giants and a matchup with the Dolphins.

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