With the Giants’ loss last Thursday, Dallas clinched the NFC East and the top seed in the playoffs. They have nothing to play for at this point other than sustaining their own rhythm and momentum.
The Lions can lose this game and still win the NFC North by beating the Packers next week. It’s not a meaningless game for them, though, as they could need it in the Wild Card race. A win this week guarantees that they will make the playoffs. Losses this week and next could allow the Buccaneers to catch up with them.
Here is the final injury report from each team based on their Saturday practices.
- LP – Limited Participate
- DNP – Did Not Participate
- OUT – Already Ruled Out
- OT Tyron Smith (back/knee) – DNP
- DE DeMarcus Lawrence (back) – OUT
- DE Tyrone Crawford (foot) – DNP
- DT Cedric Thornton (ankle) – OUT
- LB Sean Lee (knee) – LP
- LB Justin Durant (elbow) – OUT
- CB Morris Claiborne (groin) – OUT
Even before Dallas had clinched everything, there was talk that we might not see Lawrence or Claiborne back until the postseason. This is guaranteed now as the two key defenders will try to get as healthy as possible before the games matter again.
Thornton being out and Crawford looking doubtful leave Dallas pretty thin on the defensive line. Thankfully, Randy Gregory will be back to help. Even he’s not effective after so much missed time, all the Cowboys need right now is another able body. This also gives Dallas an opportunity to increase David Irving‘s playing time and see how he responds.
Tyron Smith presents the team with a bit of a dilemma. They would love to give the veteran time off for his nagging back issue. However, that would mean starting the inexperienced Emmett Cleary at left tackle and having no other tackle on reserve. Smith may have to play as long as Dak Prescott or Tony Romo are at quarterback.
Unlike Smith, Dallas can afford to rest Sean Lee. He may have to dress based on numbers, but I would expect Andrew Gachkar, Mark Nzeocha, and Kyle Wilber to get plenty of extra time.
- RB Theo Riddick (wrist) – DNP
- C Travis Swanson (concussion) – OUT
- LB DeAndre Levy (knee) – LP
- CB Darius Slay (hamstring) – DNP
The Lions will be without some key players as they try to push towards the postseason. The only confirmed out is starting center Travis Swanson, who could not return to practice and failed concussion protocol for the third week. Rookie Graham Glasgow, who was a starting guard, has been playing center during his absence.
Starting running back Theo Riddick and top cornerback Darius Slap are both doubtful after not practicing all week. Detroit likely won’t risk them tonight, being much more concerned about defeating the Packers next week. Veteran linebacker DeAndre Levy has a knee issue but will likely play tonight.