Detroit has everything left to play for in terms of increasing their chances of squeaking into the playoffs, while Dallas has already clinched home-field advantage. Cowboys Blitz writers share their predictions for this Monday night matchup below.Dallas Cowboys (12-2) host Detroit Lions (9-5)
Monday, December 26, 7:30 p.m. CST
AT&T Stadium, Arlington Texas
Bobby: The Cowboys have now clinched home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs thanks to the Giants’ loss to the Eagles on Thursday night. While there is no longer anything to play for other than pride and a few individual records, indications are that everyone will play as usual Monday night (except for injured players like Lawrence, Claiborne, etc). Detroit is in a similar situation. Because Green Bay won on Saturday, Detroit can’t clinch anything by beating Dallas, and faces a winner-take-all division title game next Sunday against Green Bay, regardless of tonight’s outcome. I think Dallas has enough young guys who are hungry and love to play the game of football that it won’t matter that Dallas isn’t playing for anything. I think Dallas is discernibly better than Detroit right now and it will play out that way on the field. Look for Ezekiel Elliott to go over 100 yards once more and Dak Prescott to have his first game with multiple touchdown passes in over a month. Dallas 28, Detroit 20.
Cami: Regardless of whether or not Dallas had clinched the division and home-field advantage before hosting the Lions, I’ve been iffy about this matchup for weeks now. I don’t think the Cowboys defense is capable of limiting a high powered offense yet with a competent quarterback on the opposite side. I love the way Matthew Stafford has been playing this season, and with Detroit needing to win this game to stay alive in the playoff race, i’d assume he’ll show up when he returns to his home state. Rust or health? I don’t see Dallas resting their healthy starters much heading into the postseason, nor do I think they should considering they have two rookies leading the way. If I were the coach, i’d rather ride into the playoffs on a high note with momentum. Both teams will likely be able to move the ball willingly, but Stafford’s late-game heroics will again emerge on the final drive of the game. Detroit 23, Dallas 20
Jonah: Injuries are starting to stack up on the defensive side of the ball for the Dallas Cowboys as they enter the final stretch into the playoffs, but luckily for them, they have now clinched the top seed in the NFC due to Philadelphia’s win on Thursday night. This could give the team an opportunity to rest some players who are banged up, but I expect Dallas to play their healthy starters this week, and possibly next week as well. This week’s matchup against the Detroit Lions is going to be a big test for this team, and possibly a future matchup in the NFC divisional round. Matthew Stafford seems to always play his best against his former hometown team, but with Theo Riddick doubtful for Monday night’s game, their offense is limited in a big way. The last two games the Lions played without Riddick involved a 20-17 win over the Matt Barkley-led Chicago Bears, and an ugly 17-6 defeat to the New York Giants. In addition, their defense gave up a total of 206 yards on the ground in those two games. I predict Ezekiel Elliott to have more than 150 total yards in a much more lopsided game than you might think with momentum of both teams coming into this matchup in opposite directions. Dallas 30, Detroit 13
Laurie: With the top seed clinched courtesy of a Giants loss, the Cowboys must go into this game with an entrenched playoff mentality looking to fine tune an offense that’s been far from dominant, while keeping the turnover mojo flowing on defense. Without Darius Slay, the Lions overachieving defense could be stretched on the back end, with a big Dez Bryant performance looming combined with a splash play or two from Brice Butler. With the deep ball connection making a timely appearance, the alleys will open for a determined Ezekiel Elliott to charge towards Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record. The Cowboys secondary has more than carried their weight this season, but will be tested against the stop-start shiftiness of Golden Tate, the hyper-athletic and vastly improved Eric Ebron and the red zone physicality of Anquan Boldin. Plenty of points as two ball control offenses tire a pair of try-hard defenses, with Dak Prescott (and the offensive line) able to out-duel Matt Stafford in a Monday Night delight. Dallas 30, Detroit 27