24th regular-season meeting. Cowboys lead the series, 12-11. The Cowboys won the last meeting between these teams, 24-20, in the 2014 playoffs. One of the most famous meetings between these two teams came in the second round of the 1991 playoffs, when the Lions won, 38-6. Erik Kramer threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns in the game, the Lions' only playoff win of the Super Bowl era.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Dallas clinched the NFC East title thanks to Philadelphia's victory over the New York Giants Thursday night.
Detroit can clinch the NFC North title with a win plus a Green Bay loss or tie or with a tie and a Green Bay loss. Detroit can secure a playoff berth with a win plus a Tampa Bay loss or tie. The Lions also would make it with a tie if Tampa Bay lost or Atlanta won and Tampa Bay tied. They also could make it if Washington lost or tied, Tampa lost and Atlanta won or tied.
Look for the Lions to focus their resources on stopping rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott and forcing Dak Prescott to beat them through the air. There's risk to that approach, as the Cowboys have dangerous weapons in the passing game and Prescott is coming off one of his best performances of the season. But, with DeAndre Levy back in the lineup, the Lions have the personnel to load up against the run.
On offense, Matthew Stafford's finger still isn't 100 percent, but it's good enough that the Lions can take some shots downfield. They've struggled in the red zone of late and need to generate more big plays.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Lions TE Eric Ebron vs. Cowboys LB Sean Lee. Ebron has had a quiet couple weeks for the Lions. He hasn't topped 40 yards receiving in a game since before Thanksgiving and is coming off an uneven performance in his return to his home state of New Jersey. With the spotlight elsewhere this week -- it's Matthew Stafford's turn to return home -- Ebron could be in line for a big game against a Cowboys team that has allowed the second-most catches to a tight end this year. Lee won't cover Ebron all of the time, but he's a difference maker in a Cowboys defense that's vulnerable down the middle of the field.
--Cowboys WR Cole Beasley vs. Lions CB Asa Jackson. Darius Slay is expected to miss Monday's game with a hamstring injury and Nevin Lawson should draw Dez Bryant in coverage. While the Lawson-Bryant matchup appears to favor the Cowboys on paper, the real weak spot in the Lions' defense is at the slot cornerback position, where Jackson was burned repeatedly by the Giants last week. Beasley leads the Cowboys with 68 catches and 759 yards, and he could be in for a big day against a player who was on the Baltimore Ravens' practice squad two weeks ago.
Lions DT A'Shawn Robinson. A second-round pick out of Alabama, Robinson has started three of the last four games at defensive tackle for the Lions and will face perhaps his biggest challenge of the season Monday against the Cowboys and center Travis Frederick. Robinson, a Texas native, was drafted in large part because of his run-stopping prowess, and the Lions are counting on him to help contain Ezekiel Elliott. Along with his play against the run, Robinson has two sacks this year and leads all NFL interior linemen with seven pass deflections.
Lions QB Matthew Stafford has 2,011 passing yards, 11 TDs and five interceptions in his past seven road games. He has thrown for 728 yards and three TDs in two career meetings.
Lions WR Golden Tate has 27 receptions for 346 yards and two scores in the past three road games.
Detroit LB Tahir Whitehead has 42 tackles in his past four road games. He leads Detroit with 119 tackles.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott completed 32 of 36 passes last week, an 88.9 percent clip that was the second-highest in NFL history for a QB who threw 30 passes in the game.
Dallas rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott leads the NFL with 1,551 rushing yards and is tied for second with 13 rushing TDs. He rushed for a career-high 159 yards last week.
Dallas WR Dez Bryant has five TD catches in three career meetings. Since 2011, he leads the NFL with 59 TD catches.
Both of these teams were held in check by the Giants the past two weeks and bring their respective stingy defenses into this one. The Cowboys have more firepower though.
OUR PICK: Cowboys, 20-17.