The 11-5 Detroit Lions travel to Dallas to take on the 12-4 Cowboys in the first round of the NFC playoffs. Both of these teams have won key games down the stretch to make the playoffs but the Cowboys have done so in much more impressive fashion. Dallas has won its last 4 games by double digits and both sides of the football have been playing at very high levels. They have outscored their opponents 165 -79 and have an average margin of victory of 21 points. The Lions have went 3-1 over their last 4 games with their defense playing solidly while the offense has been inconsistent. They have outscored their opponents 90-75 and have an average margin of victory of 8 points.
Tony Romo is playing at an MVP type level and has the Cowboys offense looking like the best in the N.F.L. In previous years Romo has been criticized for his play late in the year and his failure to lead his teams to the playoffs. Not this year, Romo is 4-0 in the month of December while throwing 12 touchdowns and 1 interception. The offense is averaging 41 points over their last 3 games and running back Demarco Murray and wide receiver Dez Bryant have been touchdown machines combining for 10 over that stretch. Tony Romo has thrown 9 TD’s with Bryant catching 6 of them while Murray has 4 rushing touchdowns. The defense has been equally as good over the last 3 games as they have given up an average of 17 points while forcing opposing offenses to commit 10 turnovers. Most impressive has been their run defense as they have allowed an average of only 60 rushing yards per game. In week 16, the Cowboys beat the Colts 42-7 with the Colts offense only managing 1 rushing yard.
Matthew Stafford has a road record of 0-16 against teams with winning records including last weeks 30-20 loss to the Packers in Green Bay. He did throw for 3 touchdowns but he completed only 20 of the 41 passes that he threw. On a positive note, Calvin Johnson caught 2 of those touchdown passes after not finding the end zone in his 2 previous games. While the Lions can take solace in the fact the Cowboys were just 4-4 at home while going 8-0 on the road, the Lions were just 4-4 on the road while going 7-1 at home. The Lions have the leagues best rushing defense while the Cowboys have the leagues top rusher in Demarco Murray and the outcome could come down whether or not Murray can be stopped.
The Cowboys are the hottest team in the league right now and look like legitimate Super Bowl Contenders. The Lions are coming off a loss in which their top ranked defense looked average and their offense has been very inconsistent all year. The 100,000+ fans in attendance on Sunday will be ready and so will the Cowboys.
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