The Dallas Cowboys lost to the Vikings and now take on the Detroit Lions. With every game of the season there will be things to watch and pay attention to. Here are five things to watch for in week 11.
1. Will the Playcalling be Better?
It is getting monotonous putting this in a lot of the articles about the Cowboys, but it is something very important that the Cowboys are screwing up every few games. Whether it is running the ball on too many first downs, not running enough play-action passes or just bad situational football, the Cowboys have struggled in dialing up the right plays at the right time.
Hopefully, when looking back at the tape from the game against the Vikings, the coaches, specifically Jason Garrett and Kellen Moore can analyze what was working and what wasn’t. With more variation, the offense can operate much more efficiently. The team ranks fifth in rushing yards and third in passing yards per game, but they don’t always put points on the board. They’ll need to score at least 30 points to beat the Lions.
2. Can the Running Game get Back on Track?
The Cowboys ran the ball on first down a lot against the Vikings and it didn’t work. Minnesota wasn’t exactly stacking the box either. Not being able to run the ball is not something that usually happens to the Cowboys, so it will be interesting to see how they respond.
Garrett and Moore will be tasked with finding ways to get Ezekiel Elliot some running room this week. There are different things, schematically, that the Cowboys can do to get Elliot in space, such as running on the outside or some more misdirection. The offensive line will also need to play better to help clear the way for Elliot. With Connor Williams injured, Xavier Sua-Filo will need to provide a spark on the offensive line.
3. Dak’s Ability to Take Advantage of a bad Secondary
Dak Prescott was making great throws all game against the Vikings. He is having a great year, as he plays his way into a new contract next season. With the team almost averaging 300 passing yards per game, more often than not, Prescott will have a good game. Against the Lions, he should be capable of an even bigger day.
The Lions surprisingly traded Quandre Diggs to the Seahawks, which depleted their secondary. They still have a solid player in Darius Slay, but the rest of the secondary is not good. Detroit ranks 27th against the pass this season, so Prescott may be able to carry the team to victory.
4. Can the Defense Stop Matt Stafford?
Matt Stafford sat out last week against the Bears, but looks like he will be able to play this weekend. The Lions have trouble running the ball, as they are tied for 20th in rushing yards per game. Things have not been easy, especially with the loss of Kerryon Johnson for the season with an injury. For Detroit to win, they’ll need Stafford to play really well.
In eight games this season, Stafford has thrown for 2,499 yards, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions. It is not just a good year in volume, Stafford has been very efficient. The Cowboys will need to get pressure on him and shut down his top two receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr., who have each had solid seasons up to this point.
5. Will any Turnovers be Forced?
Against the Vikings, the Cowboys could not force any turnovers. In close games a turnover can make all the difference, but it has not been something Dallas has been consistently been able to do. Losing the turnover battle is something the Cowboys have to stop doing and it won’t be easy in this game.
If Stafford is playing in this game, he has only thrown the five interceptions on the season. Dallas’ defense only has nine interceptions all season. Someone has to make a play on the ball or DeMarcus Lawrence might have to get another strip-sack. Winning the turnover margin will be huge in this game.