Good Afternoon, Bolts From the Blue!
The league schedule makers have gifted us with a great Saturday night game on a week where there is no Monday Night Football thanks to the New Year’s Day college football slate. The Detroit Lions travel to AT&T stadium to take on the Dallas Cowboys in a clash of two teams that have clinched playoff berths and could potentially meet later down the line in January.
Dak Prescott may have fumbled his first real chance for an MVP award but he can still take his side to a division title after they beat the Philadelphia Eagles back in Week 14 to put pressure on their rivals to win out to secure a top four seed. Mike McCarthy’s team were flying with that statement win extending to 10-3, however they have lost two games to AFC contenders since then with their offense looking like they have no idea how to move the chains. Both of those games were away from home and strangely, all five of their losses have been on the road meaning that whilst they have been absolutely dominant at home, their contender credentials have rightly been questioned.
The Detroit Lions, yes the same team that went 3-13-1 two years ago, have already won their first division title 1993 with two weeks to go in the regular season but Dan Campbell has his eyes firmly fixated on a bigger prize. This game provides an opportunity to roll into the playoffs with a proclamation of their legitimacy after a rocky end to the season losing to two division rivals in the space of a month. Jared Goff and coordinator Ben Johnson have taken this offense to another level this season ranking third in yards per game and fifth in points per game thanks to their well rounded attack, the big question is whether this is going to be enough to overcome a defense that has fallen apart as the season has gone on. Since Week 7, the Lions pass defense ranks dead last in defensive EPA and have allowed explosive plays at the fourth-worst rate while in zone (16.2%) according to PFF. Aaron Glenn’s defense has been much better against the run though and that has been enough to support their explosive offense towards 11 wins on the season.
DraftKings Sportsbook have shown that they have confidence in the Cowboys undefeated home being extended to a perfect eight out of eight as they have Dallas as 5.5-point favorites. In my opinion this is solely down to the biggest weakness on either side of the ball; the Lions’ porous pass defense which has been abysmal down the stretch. I see reason for hope though, their defense has been Cover 3/Quarters heavy and that is the type of coverage that Dak has struggled against in recent weeks. On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys’ defense was a dominant force in the first half of the season but has since regressed to the mean and I don’t think they have the schematic flexibility to compete with the way Ben Johnson moves his weapons around the field. I therefore like the Lions to cover the spread at -110 on top of a fancy for over the 52.5 points total at -112 as both offenses have proven they can put serious points on the board.
Here is how the BFTB staff sees this game breaking down:
What do you think, BFTB? Are any of you placing bets tonight?