The Dallas Cowboys were given an early Christmas present by the Philadelphia Eagles as their rivals beat the New York Giants to hand Jason Garrett’s men the NFC East crown and the number one seed in the NFC Conference.
As a result, the Cowboys can play with freedom and even rest players for the rest of the regular campaign, knowing that the road to the Super Bowl runs through AT&T Stadium. Dallas have not had many serious injuries this term and may opt to rest some of their key starters before January.
Should this be the case then Detroit has to capitalise to secure the victory that would put them within touching distance of a post-season place. Jim Caldwell’s side have been inconsistent this term, but have to be flawless in their final two matches to ensure that they don’t miss out on January football.
Dallas will have one eye on resting their key men ahead of the post-season, although they cannot afford to take their foot off the gas and lose their rhythm, especially on offense. Dak Prescott’s form has dipped slightly over the last few matches as teams have begun to become accustomed to his style of play, so it’s important for him to find top gear ahead of the playoffs.
The Lions have displayed a propensity to win close games this season, but have not been good enough to put in a truly dominant performance to secure a victory before the fourth quarter. Matthew Stafford has been struggling with a hand injury and due to his side’s inability to run the ball effectively the pressure will once again be on his shoulders to deliver the win.
Dallas have been solid at home this season, losing only once, which came on the opening day of the season against the New York Giants. They have the talent to exposed Detroit’s weaknesses therefore backing them at -270 to emerge victorious would be a smart option with TopBet sportsbook.
The Cowboys will have watched with delight as Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw a late interception to confirm their defeat to the Eagles. New York were the only team that could have caught Garrett’s men at the top of the NFC due to their success against the Cowboys this term, but their fifth loss of the season secured home-field advantage for their great rivals.
However, Dallas cannot afford to rest on their laurels as they did in the 2007 season. The club were in an almost identical position, boasting a 13-3 record and the number one seed in the NFC. They made the decision to rest their players for the final throws of the regular campaign, and although they entered the post-season healthy, the Cowboys sustained a defeat in the divisional round against the Giants – who went on to win the Super Bowl.
For the majority of the campaign Dallas have managed to stay injury-free bar the setback for Tony Romo that paved the way for Prescott to start the term. A number of their players have been nicked up over the course of the season, with Tyron Smith among those carrying knocks and it could be prudent for Garrett to take him out of the action.
Skill players on the other hand are a different matter and although Ezekiel Elliott could do with a rest, it might be more important to maintain his and Prescott’s momentum heading into the post-season.
The Cowboys have the talent and the form to overcome Detroit should their players be on song, and maintaining that rhythm will be vital for the club’s ambition to win their first Super Bowl crown in 21 years.
The Lions were dealt a blow in their defeat to the Giants last week. A win would have put them within touching distance of reaching the post-season for just the third time in the last 17 years. The Green Bay Packers are now lurking menacingly over their shoulder, just one game behind them in the NFC North.
With nine wins to their name, Caldwell’s men may have to win at least one of their final two games to secure their playoff place and considering their last match of the season is against the Packers, they may have to defeat the Cowboys to ensure that they are competing in January.
Stafford’s injury has come just at the wrong time of the season for the Lions as the issue has affected his ability to throw the ball downfield. Considering they have had little production out of their running game this term the pressure will be on the 28-year-old to drive his side to victory by playing through the pain barrier.
Detroit have displayed a great deal of character throughout the season as proven by their ability to win matches late in the fourth quarter. They will need that in abundance to overcome their hosts, but do have a strong run defense to limit the prowess of Elliott and the Dallas rushing attack.
The contest will be decided over who comes out on top in that matchup. Should the Lions win the battle and force Prescott to win the match they might have a chance to force the rookie into couple of mistakes that could sway the game in the favour of Caldwell’s men.
The Cowboys have been a dominant force in the NFL this season and should they bring their best form to the clash on Monday night then they should have no problem earning their 13th win of the term.
However, should complacency creep into the game and their players perform with playoff action on their minds then it might be enough to allow the Lions into the contest, with Detroit proving over the course of the campaign that they are tough side to deal with in the fourth quarter.
Dallas’ past experience will stand them in good stead and Garrett should have his side fired up to keep them on track and in rhythm heading into January with another win.
Dallas Cowboys to beat Detroit Lions
Monday 26th December 20:30 ET (Tuesday 27th December 01:30 GMT)