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Dallas Cowboys – Detroit Lions: Staff Picks And Predictions; Merry Christmas



Dallas Cowboys - Detroit Lions: Staff Picks And Predictions; Merry Christmas
Leon Halip / Getty Images

Merry Christmas! I hope your holiday is going well, because the day is halfway over. That's a real glass-empty way of looking at it, huh? But seriously, today has to end. It must end so that tomorrow can come, because tomorrow the Cowboys host the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football as the 2016 NFC East Division Champions.

That's worth welcoming the end of Christmas, right? Right.

You've all heard by now, surely, the Dallas Cowboys have nothing left to play for this regular season after the Giants gifted them a loss against Philly on Thursday, and their playoff spot is locked in as well. While it is tremendous news for those faithful fans among us, it's also a huge question; how do you finish the season if the last two games have no value?

Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr each suffered a broken fibula yesterday so it's definitely still football season; injuries still happen, even crushing ones. Do the Cowboys risk Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, and this offensive line for meaningless games? Do the Cowboys risk getting these guys, who we'll need at the top of their game in January, out of sync by sitting them, resting them?

Well... that is the million dollar question, isn't it? And it's only exacerbated by the fact that our starting QB and RB are rookies...

This will be the 27th meeting between the Cowboys and Lions, and it's a fairly even record at 14-12 Dallas. But more importantly, this will be the first game against Dallas since the controversial 2014 playoff game for the Lions. Histrionics add meaning and make players fight a little harder. Plus, the Lions are trying desperately to stay one game ahead of the Packers for the division title, so we're sure to get a good show tomorrow night.

But enough lead-in; let's check in with our staff for their thoughts and score predictions.

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Brian Martin | @Bmart0204

The Cowboys offense got back on track last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and I expect a repeat performance against the Detroit Lions Monday night.

Ezekiel Elliott should have another big game and put himself even closer to breaking Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record. Defensively the Cowboys have been playing really well and I think they will give Matt Stafford and the Lions offense all they can handle. Detroit has been living off of their late game heroics, but it's not going be enough to bail them out this week in Dallas.

Cowboys 27 – Lions 19

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Kevin Brady | @Kevinbrady88

Similar to how they did during the 2014 season, I think the Cowboys finish off their season strong despite already having everything locked up.

This team wants to send a message to a potential playoff opponent in the Detroit Lions that if they meet again, things won't end well for the Lions. Ezekiel Elliott has a big day, and the game is never really in doubt.

Cowboys 31 – Lions 17

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Jess Haynie | @CowboysAddicts

Dallas can say that they are playing to win, but the Lions are truly playing for survival.

Clinching the top seed will make it hard for the Cowboys to match the Lions' intensity. Dallas may rest some of their banged-up starters.

Cowboys 20 – Lions 31

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Sean Martin | @ShoreSportsNJ

It is Christmas morning as I write this, so I can't in my right mind pick against the Cowboys - even though they seemingly have nothing to play for.

Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are going to be out there though, and I think they find a way to pull out another thrilling win late.

Cowboys 28 – Lions 21

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Bryson Treece | @BrysonTreece

It's a beautiful thing, having nothing to play for; it's beautiful because all there is to play for this year - unlike 2015 - has already been achieved for the regular season. The Lions can't say the same, however, as they're in the fight for their whole season right now.

Like Jess mentioned before, the Lions are going to play with a level of intensity that the Cowboys are ill-suited to match this week. It'll be interesting, but I've got the Lions pulling out a crucial win while the Cowboys cruise a bit. Just a bit, though.

Cowboys 24 – Lions 27

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One thing is for sure, this game will be the last December football game for the Cowboys. Everything else? You'll just have to wait and see, like the rest of us.

Merry Christmas, Cowboys Nation. LET’S GO COWBOYS!!!

This is the General Staff account for Inside The Star, a blog for Dallas Cowboys news, scores, schedule, rumors, and analysis. We are the official home for @CowboysNation on Twitter. Follow us today for new content updates straight from our timeline. To learn more about our staff, please visit our Staff listing.

1 Comment
  • Bryson Treece

    Gonna be one hell of a game, that’s for sure. Actually excited to see the Lions offense go haha #DivisionChampLife

Game Notes

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Indianapolis

Brian Martin



The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Indianapolis

In a game we all hoped would clinch the NFC East division, the Dallas Cowboys instead got shut out by the Indianapolis Colts in one of their worst performances of the season. It was a deplorable performance in every aspect of the game and something we hope to never see again.

I knew sooner or later the Dallas Cowboys self-inflicted wounds would catch up to them, and that's exactly what happened against the Colts. They had far too many penalties and mental mistakes once again and it allowed Indianapolis to take over the game. The Cowboys beat themselves plain and simple.

Before I get on a rant about yesterday's game, I better stick to the topic at hand and share with you what I believe to be The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for the Dallas Cowboys. As always, please feel free to use the comment section located at the end of the article to share any of your thoughts and opinions on this topic.

The Good

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

In a game where just about everything went wrong for the Dallas Cowboys it sometimes a little difficult to find any kind of silver lining. That was the case this week after the Cowboys were shut out by the Indianapolis Colts. But, the good for me is that Dallas still holds their playoff fate in their hands, despite the embarrassing loss.

Any thoughts of sitting any of the starters for the Cowboys has now gone out the window. They absolutely have to play to win to close out the 2018 regular-season, because they failed to do what needed to be done against the Colts to secure the NFC East division title. Luckily though, it didn't close the door on their playoff aspirations.

With the Buccaneers and Giants left remaining on their schedule, the Cowboys will have to find some way to get back to their winning ways. Hopefully this was just the slap in the face they needed in order to put things in perspective. They simply can't afford another showing like they had against Indianapolis at any point moving forward.

The Bad

Xavier Su'a-flio

Dallas Cowboys LG Xavier Su'a-flio

I knew exactly what I was going to put in the section as soon as it happened during the game. The bad this week for the Dallas Cowboys against the Indianapolis Colts for me was without a doubt their banged up, patched together offensive line.

The Cowboys were forced to go with a patchwork offensive line for the majority of the game against the Colts yesterday afternoon after Xavier Su'a-flio left the game after an eye injury, forcing the Cowboys to go with their third string offensive guard Adam Redmond. Su'a-flio immediately had to leave the stadium to have his eye examined by an optometrist, suggesting that it was a pretty significant injury.

Unfortunately, another injury on the OL for the Cowboys leaves them severely thin depth wise at the most inopportune time. Hopefully a week of rest has done Zack Martin's injured knee some good and he will be able to return to the lineup as soon as possible. That would allow Connor Williams to move back to LG and hopefully solidify the offensive line once again.

The Ugly

Marlon Mack, Chidobe Awuzie

Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack

Maybe I underestimated the Indianapolis Colts offense or maybe I just overrated the Dallas Cowboys defense, but something was clearly off yesterday afternoon on the defensive side of the ball for the Cowboys. After being so good nearly all season, they were just plain ugly against Indianapolis.

The Cowboys defense didn't have an answer for the Colts offense, especially in the running game. Marlon Mack, a solid runner although not spectacular, completely gashed the Cowboys usually stout run defense. He ran for 139 rushing yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns, something that's been unheard of against Dallas' run D.

I was honestly completely shocked he had so much success. There were far too many missed tackles and blown assignments to my liking and I believe the coaching staff will make sure to focus on clearing that up moving forward. This team can't afford to let opposing offenses control the clock with their rushing attack. That's the Cowboys MO.

What's your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against Indianapolis?

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Game Notes

IND 23, DAL 0: Cowboys Get Shut Out, Embarrassed by Colts

Jess Haynie



Is Dak Prescott's Relationship with Scott Linehan Broken?

The Dallas Cowboys must think they've already won the NFC East, because they looked like a team with nothing to play for today. The result was an embarrassing 23-0 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

The Cowboys were shut out for the first time since the 2003 season, which was Jason Witten's rookie year.

Dallas squandered a major time-of-possession advantage in the first half, finishing three drives with a blocked field goal, punt, and a failed 4th-and-1 play near the Colts' goal line. Indianapolis capitalized on their own drives and took a 10-0 lead into halftime.

The Colts got the ball back to start the third quarter and drove down for another touchdown. Down 17-0, Dallas responded with a weak drive and a punt. The game felt out of reach even then, with the Cowboys just looking flat from that point forward.

Ezekiel Elliott had 87 rushing yards 41 receiving for some empty production. Amari Cooper won't be winning any awards this week, held to just four catches for 32 yards.

Dak Prescott completed 62% of his passes for 206 yards. He was sacked three times and threw a late interception; an overthrown ball got tipped by the receiver and picked off on the team's final offensive series.

While the offense was especially bad today, the defense wasn't much better. Dallas surrendered 139 yards rushing yards and two touchdown to Colts RB Marlon Mack, who hadn't had a 100-yard game since October. Andrew Luck wasn't sacked and went virtually untouched the entire day.

The Cowboys could have taken the NFC East with a win, but they didn't come close. Hopefully this serves as a wake-up call with the postseason only a few weeks away.

Other Notes

  • With the Redskins defeating the Jaguars today, Dallas will have to wait until next week to try to clinch the NFC East. The Cowboys needed losses by both Washington and Philadelphia if they didn't win themselves. The Eagles are visiting the Rams tonight.
  • The Cowboys will get some softer competition to finish the year, hosting the Buccaneers next week and then going to play the Giants in Week 17.
  • With the Bears defeating the Packers today and moving to 10-4, they will likely stay the #3 seed in the playoffs. That means Dallas, assuming they do win the NFC East, will almost certainly be hosting the 5th-seeded Seahawks in the first round.
  • Jaylon Smith led the Cowboys with 11 tackles, but neither he or Leighton Vander Esch were making the big plays that we've grown accustomed to.
  • Xavier Woods had the highlight play on defense, delivering a perfect hit to dislodge the ball from Colts TE Eric Ebron and stop a potential big gain.
  • Blake Jarin and Dalton Schultz combined for seven catches for 68 yards; another week of increased TE production from what we've seen must of the year.
  • Fullback Jamize Olawale doesn't get many opportunities on offense, and he may not get more after dropping an open touchdown on the team's second drive of the day.

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Game Notes

Cowboys Can’t Finish Drives, Trailing Colts 10-0 at Halftime

Jess Haynie



Dak Prescott

The Cowboys have had no trouble moving the ball today, but they've failed to finish drives with points. Dallas is thus trailing the Indianapolis Colts 10-0 at halftime.

Dallas has had possession for over 19 minutes compared to just 10 for the Colts. But their three drives have ended with a blocked field goal, a failed 4th-and-1 play near the endzone, and a punt.

Ezekiel Elliott has 64 rushing yards and 23 receiving so far today. Dak Prescott has completed 12-of-19 for 106 yards, but has been sacked twice.

The offensive line continues to suffer from health issues. With Zack Martin already out and Connor Williams starting at right guard, Xavier Su'a-Filo left the game with an eye injury during the second quarter and will not return. Backup Adam Redmond is now playing.

The Cowboys can clinch the NFC East with a win in any of their final three games. They could also clinch today if the Redskins and Eagles lose. Washington is trailing 10-3 in Jacksonville at halftime, and the Eagles are visiting the Rams tonight.

Hopefully, Dallas will start showing up on the scoreboard in the second half.

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