Five things to watch: Lions at Cowboys

Detroit News

The Detroit Lions come out of the bye with a trip to JerryWorld to take on the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

Dak Prescott is set to return at quarterback for Dallas, which will be a huge boost to the Cowboys offense after Cooper Rush threw three interceptions last week at Philadelphia. The Lions hoped the bye week would get them healthier as well, but it stayed about the same.

The Lions look to pull off an upset on the road. Here are five things to watch ahead of Sunday’s game.

Can the O-line handle Dallas’ pass rush?

The Lions have one of the best offensive lines in football, but it was tested by Matthew Judon and the Patriots in Week 5, and will be tested once again by Micah Parsons and the Cowboys in Week 7. Parsons will probably line up opposite Penei Sewell, who is a 6-foot-5, 330-pound mammoth of a human being, but moves surprisingly well for someone of that size and stature. He’ll have to contend with Parsons’ speed and explosiveness on the edge. If the offensive line can’t hold up, it could be a long day for Jared Goff and company.

Will we see any improvements on defense?

Dan Campbell said once again this week that the coaching staff will be making some adjustments on defense. It was slightly better against the Patriots, especially in the red zone, but it still couldn’t generate a pass rush, and the Patriots ran the ball down its throat all game long. The Cowboys’ offensive line isn’t what it used to be, as it lost several key pieces in the offseason, so this game might be a golden opportunity to get some pressure on Prescott. The secondary will also have its hands full with receivers CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. The running back duo of Ezekiel Elliot and Tony Pollard will surely cause some problems as well. This will be a tall task for the Lions’ defense.

Will they attempt a field goal?

The Lions opted to go for it on fourth down six times last week, rather than attempt a field goal with new kicker Michael Badgley. It went 0-for-6 in those attempts. We don’t know why they never attempted a field goal — whether they weren’t comfortable with Badgley yet, or weren’t comfortable with the weather conditions. Playing indoors at AT&T Stadium, if Dan Campbell still doesn’t opt to send the field goal unit out, that will say a lot about that state of the Lions special teams.

Avoiding further injuries

The Lions are already banged up enough as it is, and the bye week didn’t help nearly as much as they had hoped. Lions receiver DJ Chark didn’t practice this week and Charles Harris is still being bothered by a groin injury. The good news is that DE John Cominsky is back and practicing, as is RB D’Andre Swift and WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, who practiced in full. Getting healthy will be key to the Lions season going forward.

Can the Lions keep it close?

Maybe it’s just me, but this game has blowout written all over it. The Lions are still dealing with a lot of injuries, and the Cowboys are getting their starting QB back. Dallas also has a far more talented roster. The goal should be to keep the game close going into the fourth quarter. If the Lions can do that, then they have a shot. If not, it’ll be a long afternoon.

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