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Gut Feeling: Writers' Final Preview Of Cowboys-Lions

The Cowboys clinched the NFC East title and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs in the middle of the week, but they have no plans on losing their edge with two games left in the regular season.

Next up Monday is a Detroit Lions team (9-5) that's leading the NFC North and looking to clinch a playoff spot. Can the Cowboys (12-2) keep their momentum going on Monday Night Football? The staff gives their gut feelings for the Week 16 matchup at AT&T Stadium:

Bryan Broaddus:The Lions went on the road to New Orleans and held Drew Brees in check for a victory but were unable to back that up later on their trip to New York. The Lions are playing for their playoff lives and will know the outcome of the Green Bay-Minnesota game before they take the field Monday night. The Lions and Cowboys are similar with offensive ball control but do it different ways. The Lions use the pass while Cowboys like to run. My gut feeling is that Dallas continues to have success running the ball and Ezekiel Elliott puts himself in position to take a shot at the NFL rookie rushing record in Philadelphia next week. Cowboys get their 13th victory, 23-17.

Rob Phillips:The Cowboys have averaged over 27 points in their first seven home games this year. The Lions are 3-4 on the road and averaging 21.5 points overall this season. Can Detroit take advantage of red zone opportunities? To me, that's the key to Week 16, because overall the Cowboys have been a more efficient offense at AT&T Stadium. In last Sunday's loss to the Giants, the Lions scored only three points on three trips inside the 20: they threw an interception, lost a fumble and settled for a field goal. Monday presents another tough matchup for a Cowboys defense that has been outstanding the last few weeks. Matthew Stafford has directed eight fourth-quarter comebacks for Detroit. Even though the Cowboys have playoff homefield advantage clinched, there's absolutely no reason to relax. They know they could see the Lions again in the postseason. I don't sense a letdown here at all. Dallas wins with another strong game from Ezekiel Elliott and ties the franchise record for regular-season wins in a season.

Nick Eatman: While it's a nice early Christmas present for the Cowboys to wrap up everything they want with two games to play, I don't see a major change in approach this week vs. Detroit. The intensity will still be high for a Monday Night game and I still think the opportunity to have the best record in team history is something Jason Garrett will be intrigued by. Sometimes, having something to play for isn't always the best recipe for success. Take Thursday night's game for example. The Giants desperately needed to win and the Eagles were having fun. Maybe that approach will help the Cowboys on Monday. In my opinion, they are a better team overall and will show that in this game. I see the Cowboys picking off Matthew Stafford twice, including one from Orlando Scandrick for the second straight game. Cole Beasley will score at least one touchdown and I'm not ruling out two. Overall, the Cowboys are better and will win going away, 27-14.

David Helman: I have a harder time reading this game now that I know the Cowboys have clinched homefield advantage in the playoffs. I know they're going to approach it just like any other contest, but will that be enough against a Lions team that is fighting for its playoff life? I honestly expect this to look a lot like the Tampa game. The Lions have a solid defense and a quarterback who can rack up big yards. I expect Matt Stafford to throw for 300 yards, and he's going to get his team into the end zone more often than Jameis Winston did. All of that said, I expect the Cowboys to play fast and loose, knowing that they can just have fun. Ezekiel Elliott is going to have another solid day, rushing for 133 yards and two touchdowns. That'll open up the field for Dak Prescott, and Dez Bryant will have one of his best outings of the season – maybe 104 yards and a touchdown. At the end of the day, I guess I just trust these guys to keep their foot on the gas. Stafford and Co. will make things exciting, but the Cowboys improve to 13-2 with a 35-31 win.

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