Can the Cowboys bounce back this week on the road? Can they finally take advantage of a team playing with a backup at a key position? Find out what the staff writers think about Sunday's game in Detroit.
The Cowboys have already played a handful of teams missing key players this year, and it hasn't really helped. New Orleans still won without Drew Brees. The Packers won without Davante Adams and last week, the Vikings were able to win without several key players, including Adam Thielen. So this week, the Lions are missing quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is dealing with a back issue.
Will this help the Cowboys this week in Detroit?
The DallasCowboys.com staff gives their 'gut feeling' for Sunday's game in the Motor City.
Rob Phillips: After nine games, the numbers say the Cowboys are doing a lot of things right. They've got the league's No. 1 offense. They're a top-7 defense. They're technically leading their division by tiebreaker. But they haven't played up to their own expectations, regardless of what anyone else is saying outside the building. If they play a clean, complete game, they should leave Detroit with a win. I think it starts with the defense stopping the run. When they do that, good things usually happen. Kerryon Johnson's injury has affected the Lions' run game the last three weeks. Dallas can't allow Jeff Driskel to settle in at quarterback because he's got enough options in the passing game to move the ball and score points. This is a 3-5-1 Lions team that has lost four games by a touchdown or less. They present challenges, but I think the Cowboys will improve to 6-4.
Nick Eatman: On one hand, you would think I would learn my lesson by now. On the other, picking the Cowboys to win impressively would classify as learning my lesson. This team is so up and down, that it also seems appropriate for them to have another big game like this. And it doesn't hurt the Lions are against playing their backup QB and third-string RB. Or maybe it does hurt? The Cowboys couldn't take advantage of Brees, Adams and Thielen being out. Still, I think the Cowboys are due for a big game and a big win. The defense will get three turnovers and will score a touchdown, while Zeke will rip off the longest run of the season – let's say over 40 yards – to squash that narrative that he can't have a big play. More success for Michael Gallup and let's put Jason Witten into the end zone again. Give me the Cowboys in a comfortable 31-13 win.
Mickey Spagnola: Here is the mistake the Cowboys can't make a second time in a row. Failing to get pressure on a young, inexperienced quarterback. They should have learned that lesson in the 24-22 loss to the New York Jets, with second-year quarterback Sam Darnold returning after missing a whole month with mono. They allowed Darnold, in just his second game of the season, to get comfortable enough in the pocket, have the game slow down enough, to throw for 326 yards in that loss. Now, with Matthew Stafford out and Jeff Driskel ready to start just his seventh game of his four-year NFL career, they just must get pressure on him. Speed the game up, especially on sure passing downs. The front four, that's on you. And if need be, bring some blitzes. Just can't let this happen again. And if they don't, 31-17, Cowboys.
David Helman:If Matthew Stafford was playing, I'd be thinking long and hard about this matchup. But he's not, which should help take the guesswork out of this. The Dallas defense struggled last week, but that was against a quality quarterback and one of the best running backs in the league. The Lions do not currently have either of those things, and that's going to make it hard for them to move the ball consistently. Meanwhile, I trust the running game to get back on track against this front, as I think Zeke Elliott can put up 120 and a couple of touchdowns after a down week against Minnesota. As usual, it'll probably take some time for the Cowboys to take control, but they'll pull away down the stretch – something like 27-13.