Football analyst Bucky Brooks, a former NFL player and scout who now works for NFL Network and serves as an analyst for DallasCowboys.com, gives his weekly keys to the game Sunday, providing specific points of emphasis for both the Cowboys and Lions..
The Cowboys will win if…
Despite Dak Prescott's return, the Cowboys need to stick with the blueprint that has helped them become one of the NFC's top teams. The combination of a strong running game and a stingy defense has produced terrific results, particularly with the Tony Pollard-Ezekiel Elliott combination flourishing within a ground-and-pound attack. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore needs to exhibit the same discipline and commitment to the running game while taking advantage of Prescott's skills as a play-action passer. When the Cowboys utilize a balanced game plan with the running game serving as the foundation, it is hard for opponents to deal with the diversity of an offense loaded with weapons.
Defensively, Micah Parsons and Co. must find a way to get Jared Goff off of his spot in the pocket. The veteran passer has been on fire this season as a quick-rhythm thrower, but he tends to fall apart when the pressure collapses the pocket. If the Cowboys can control the line of scrimmage against a talented and tough Lions offensive line, the emerging title contenders can get back on track with a win against an overmatched opponent.
The Lions will win if…
The Lions are a scrappy bunch capable of taking the game into the fourth quarter with their rugged playing style. Dan Campbell's squad wants to beat up their opponents at every turn and make the game a fistfight in a phone booth. If the Lions are able to establish the running game with DeAndre Swift and Jamal Williams controlling the action, they will drain the clock and force the Cowboys into a fourth-quarter affair that will be decided in the game's final minutes.
Although the running game will serve as the foundation for the Lions' game plan, the team will look to Amon-Ra St.Brown to deliver a big play in the passing game. The diminutive pass catcher is a chain mover with big play ability and they will attempt to get him the ball on an assortment of short and intermediate throws designed to give him opportunities to get loose in space.
Defensively, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn will bring pressure from everywhere to disrupt the flow of the Cowboys' offense. He will utilize Aidan Hutchinson as a primary playmaker to create havoc and destruction at the point of attack. If the athletic edge defender is able to produce a few splash plays that put the Cowboys behind the chains, the Lions have enough opportunistic defenders with the ball skills and instincts to take advantage of a rusty Prescott missing the mark on downfield throws. With a few turnovers and some timely stops, the Lions are certainly capable of knocking off the Cowboys if they fail to bring their A-game.