The Dallas Cowboys had quite an interesting 2019 NFL Draft. Starting in the second round, their selections were questioned by many analysts and die-hard fans. Many, myself included, were surprised to see them take Defensive Tackle Trysten Hill over some of the top safeties such as Taylor Rapp or Juan Thornhill. But the surprises didn't stop there, as the Cowboys went on to take an interior offensive lineman in Connor McGovern with their third round pick. Among other oddities, Dallas waited until the sixth round to draft a safety, passed on the tight end position altogether and double-dipped at the running back position.
Yet, the Cowboys managed to fix one of the team's biggest problems. The lack of depth across the board.
While the Cowboys could certainly use an upgrade at various positions, the truth of the matter is, their starters are rock solid. Heading into the 2019 season, the Dallas Cowboys have a great starting lineup both on offense and on defense. Despite having lost to the L.A. Rams in the Divisional Round in disappointing fashion, we can't ignore the fact that they're very likely to be a playoff team and a contender this year.
On offense, perhaps the one big question mark regarding starters lies at tight end. The position will consist of two young unproven players and a 37-year old Jason Witten who recently came out of retirement. Other than that, the Cowboys' starters on offense are pretty good. At receiver they'll be led by Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, along with Randall Cobb. The offensive line - when healthy - should bounce back with Travis Frederick getting back to the field. And well, we can all agree the Cowboys have a decent starter at RB, right?
However, this Draft class helps their desperate situation on the depth chart. There were no players to back up Ezekiel Elliott, but that changed with the Cowboys drafting two valuable running backs (Tony Pollard and Mike Weber) in the fourth and seventh round.
As for the offensive line, Connor McGovern provides necessary depth for a unit filled with uncertainties. Will La'el Collins stay with the Cowboys in the long run? Is Frederick as healthy as we'd like him to be? Will Connor Williams' real value be at right tackle?
On the defensive side, the pick to talk about is DT Trysten Hill. The Cowboys passed on a safety, the position which many agreed needed help. However, the front office opted to get a guy for the trenches. In Hill, Rod Marinelli got a lineman who can play both as a three-technique and a one-technique for his defense. Maliek Collins is entering a contract year and although they could complement each other, there's a strong chance Collins doesn't stick around.
Like it or not, this Draft class will go a long way in helping a football team that's ready to win now. To contend for a Super Bowl, having a group of 22 decent starters is not enough. Injuries happen - a lot - and if you want to make a run, you better have enough depth to make it through the season.
Lion Down: QB Matthew Stafford Ruled Out for Cowboys Game
The Detroit Lions will be without starting Quarterback Matthew Stafford this Sunday when they host the Dallas Cowboys. He has been officially ruled out due to fractures in his back; the second-straight game that Stafford will miss with the injury.
Fourth-year backup QB Jeff Driskel will get the start as he did last week against the Chicago Bears. The Lions lost that game 20-13, and Driskel went 1-4 as a starter last season when playing for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Stafford's status was confirmed this morning by Lions' Head Coach Matt Patricia.
Lions QB Matthew Stafford (back) has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Cowboys
Losing Stafford could leave Detroit completely crippled on offense. While they have one of the league's top passing offenses so far in 2019, that was all Matt's work at QB. Now they are missing both their starting QB and their top running back, Kerryon Johnson, who went on injured reserve in Week 7.
That said, Detroit did put up 357 total offensive yards last week against the Bears with Driskel starting. Given the quality of Chicago's defense and that the Lions were playing on the road, that's a strong number.
It will be interesting to see how Dallas strategizes on defense after last week's loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The Cowboys were completely run over by Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, so will increased focus on run defense creates opportunities for Driskel and the Lions' receivers?
However it shakes out, Matthew Stafford's absence definitely helps the Cowboys. He is still one of the top quarterbacks in football and had a top-five passer rating before the injury.
We never root for injuries but such is life in the NFL. Sometimes you get the benefit, sometimes you're on the losing end.
Hopefully, this turn of fate helps Dallas get a much-needed victory.
#DALvsDET: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction
Cowboys -3.5 O/U 51.5 points.
After suffering a devastating four point loss to the Vikings on Sunday night, the Cowboys will look to get back on track against yet another NFC North foe.
Dallas now sits at 5-4, clinging to their first place spot in the division with the Philadelphia Eagles right on their heels. They have fumbled away four very win-able games already this season, and are running out of chances to take full control of their playoff destiny.
You can't necessarily call this one a must win for the Cowboys, but it's damn near as close as it can get to one for a week 11 game. Considering Detroit's record and injuries, the Cowboys can ill afford to let this one slip away on Sunday.
It's one of the few games against a team with a losing record remaining on their schedule.
The 2019 Lions are a tough team to figure out. Expected before the season to be one of the worst teams in the conference, the Lions started out the season rather well.
They were "undefeated" (there was a tie) through the first three weeks of the season, and played the Kansas City Chiefs extremely tough. They also went on the road and had the Green Bay Packers on the ropes for four full quarters.
But, with all that being said, they now sit at 3-5-1, with their NFC playoff hopes just about destroyed. Quarterback Matt Stafford is having one of the best seasons of his entire career, however, and is surrounded by an offense littered with receiving talent. If he's healthy and can play, he'll be a handful for the Cowboys secondary to deal with.
- The Cowboys are now 2-4 against the spread their last 6 games.
- The score total has gone over in 5 of the Cowboys' last 6 games. It's also gone over 5 of their last 6 road games.
- The Lions are 1-4 against the spread their last 5 games.
- The score total has gone over 7 of the last 8 times these teams have played.
Despite being on the road this week, I'm going to pick the Dallas Cowboys to come out on top and cover the 3.5 point spread. At some point, talent has to take over for this bunch, and what a better day for that to happen than against a hobbled Detroit Lions team?
The Cowboys have been far from perfect in 2019, but it's now or never if they want to rack up wins and start a playoff run.
Safety Darian Thompson Set to Start in Place of Injured Jeff Heath
Dallas Cowboys Safety Jeff Heath has been a starter for the defense since the beginning of the 2017 season. A streak of 35 games is likely coming to an end for Heath as he's been dealing with a shoulder issue this week. What this means for the Dallas Cowboys is that Darian Thompson, who's been filling in for the Cowboys as Heath's dealt with injuries each of the last couple of weeks, is set to start for the Cowboys this week against the Detroit Lions.
Thomspon, a former third-round draft pick of the New York Giants is finally getting an opportunity to play full-time with the first unit since coming to the Cowboys before the 2018 season. He's primarily been a special teams player as Xavier Woods and Heath have manned the safety spots but has been solid over the last couple of weeks. This will be Thompson's second start of the season after he filled in for Xavier Woods against the Miami Dolphins back in week three.
Against the New York Giants, Thomspon recovered a pivotal fumble that was forced by Xavier Woods that helped turned the tide in that game in the second half. In the Giants game, Thompson played 56% of the snaps and he played 80% of the defensive snaps against the Minnesota Vikings.
He's made some plays over the last couple of weeks piling up two stops per Pro Football Focus. PFF defines a stop as a tackle that prevents a play from gaining enough yardage to be deemed a successful play. In the passing game over the last two games, Thompson's been targeted three times and has only allowed one reception that went for seven yards.
Though he missed a couple of tackles last week against the Vikings, a lot of Dallas Cowboys missed tackles in week 10. Dalvin Cook is one of the more difficult players to get to the ground.
Thompson's challenge this week will come in the passing game against the Detroit Lions plethora of receiving targets. Defensive Backs Coach and Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard expressed confidence in Thompson's ability to fill in for Heath because of his mental and physical makeup.
While it's intriguing to see what Thompson has to offer, many who follow the team continue to wonder when Donovan Wilson will get the chance to play.
Wilson's preseason was as good as you could hope for from a rookie. He had three interceptions playing part-time snaps in four preseason games. The Cowboys have been in desperate need of a guy who has the knack for making plays on the ball that Donovan Wilson showed in his limited playing time during the preseason.
Thompson, with more years of experience under his belt is the more trusted option right now for the Cowboys and he has an opportunity to carve out a role with another start this week. Though he may not be the safety that we've been clamoring for, this could be a net positive for Dallas this week and moving forward depending on how he plays. How the defense looks with Darian Thompson in the lineup will be one of the big questions facing the Cowboys secondary in this week's matchup with the Detroit Lions.
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