Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott drops back to pass during the second half of the team's NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) stiff arms New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker (27) during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller (83) is tackled by Detroit Lions defensive back Will Harris (25) and cornerback Darius Slay during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti)
DETROIT (AP) The Dallas Cowboys ’ offense is having a great year - statistically at least.
Dallas is leading the league in total yards for a fourth straight week and has a chance to close the season as the NFL’s top-ranked offense for the first time in 42 years.
“It’s all kind of clicking for them,” Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay said.
Despite the success of Dak Prescott and Co. - they are averaging 437-plus yards a game and are the league’s best offense on third down - the Cowboys are not rolling into the Motor City with much momentum.
Dallas (5-4) is coming off a loss to Minnesota at home and has dropped four of six games.
The Cowboys are tied with Philadelphia atop the NFC East, but they probably can’t afford to lose to the slumping Detroit Lions (3-5-1) because their schedule down the stretch is challenging with games against New England and the Eagles on the road.
“This is a confident group that knows we’re going to peak at the right time,” Prescott said. “We’ve got all the faith and trust that we’re going to get there and handle the things that we need to handle.”
The Lions, meanwhile, have lost five of six after a solid start and don’t want the season to slip away.
“Nobody’s wants to say the last few weeks haven’t gone the way we wanted and just lay an egg,” Detroit offensive tackle Taylor Decker said.
Here are some things to watch Sunday at Ford Field:
FEAST OR FAMINE
Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott had five 100-yard rushing games in his first eight games for the first time in his career.
However, Elliott has been held to four of the nine lowest rushing totals in his career when he hasn’t run for 100 yards.
The two-time rushing champion struggled in the 28-24 loss last week to Minnesota. His longest carry was 6 yards, and he was limited to 47 yards on 20 carries.
A chance to win escaped when Dallas went to Elliott three straight times inside the Minnesota 15 late in the game. He had two rushes that for a combined minus-3 yards before he was the target on an incomplete pass on fourth down.
“Take it with that chip on your shoulder and use it as fuel when you go back to work the next week,” he said.
Detroit will be without quarterback Matthew Stafford for a second straight week because of hip and back injuries, giving Jeff Driskel another opportunity to show the NFL what he can do under center.
The fourth-year pro was 27 of 46 for 269 yards passing and 37 yards rushing - all career highs - with a touchdown and an interception in his sixth career start in last week’s loss at Chicago.
“He’s a really talented guy,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s big. He’s athletic. He can throw it. He played a lot of football in college and just seemed like a really smart guy who understood the game and just needed an opportunity. So, it doesn’t surprise us one bit that he’s playing.”
Driskel got his first opportunity to play last season with the Cincinnati Bengals, starting five games in place of the injured Andy Dalton, with mixed results.
“Everybody wants to be out on the field and playing and competing,” Driskel said. “Kind of how we all got here is our competitive nature.”
PLAYING A MAN DOWN
The Cowboys already know one way they can improve the defense against screen passes after Dalvin Cook tied his career high with 86 yards receiving, most of it on screens. Dallas can start by making sure 11 men are on the field. There were just 10 on a 30-yard play by Cook that set up the second Minnesota touchdown for a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. The play was made worse for the Cowboys when defensive end Robert Quinn was called for roughing the passer.
TAKING AWAY TURNOVERS
Detroit got off to a 2-0-1 start and had chances to win the next two games in part because its defense forced 11 turnovers in five games. The Lions’ defense has not recovered a fumble or made an interception in two straight games and has forced only one turnover over a four-game stretch.
“We’re trying to find new tricks and trades to turn the ball over,” Slay said.
OFFENSIVE LINE SHUFFLE
Dallas left guard Connor Williams will miss several weeks following arthroscopic knee surgery. Right tackle La’el Collins (knee and back) and right guard Zack Martin (back, ankle and elbow) are also banged up, but are expected to play at Detroit. Xavier Su’a-Filo played well when Williams was out with a knee injury last year and is taking his spot again.
Detroit Lions WR Kenny Golladay, who has one year remaining on his rookie deal, said that he is open to signing a contract extension with the team during the offseason.
Fantasy Spin: Golladay appears poised to have his second consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season and an extension could make him one of the NFL's highest-paid receivers. He is currently tied for sixth in the league in receiving yards (950), ranked first in touchdown receptions (nine) and is second in the league with 20.2 yards per catch. Golladay will continue to serve as Detroit's main option in their passing game and should be a WR2 or WR3 in all fantasy leagues despite the Lions' current quarterback situation.
Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku (wrist) expects to be activated from the Reserve/Injured list in order to play in Week 14's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He was designated for return from injured reserve Nov. 20, and has participated in several practice sessions since then.
Fantasy Spin: Njoku has a very favorable matchup versus the Cincinnati defense this weekend, so he can be viewed as a high-end TE2 with TE1 upside in most fantasy formats.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd has been on a roll as of late and will look to stay on course against Cleveland on Sunday. Boyd racked up 10 catches on 19 targets over his previous two outings, while also adding 160 yards and two touchdowns. John Ross (chest) will be back in the picture after missing some time, but Boyd is still an acceptable option in most fantasy leagues in Week 14, especially if you have nowhere else to turn.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon has started to show signs of life as the season heads into the final stretch and will look to stay on track against Cleveland on Sunday. While the Browns have been effective against the run over the last four weeks, at least on paper, by allowing a third-best 16.73 fantasy points per game to opposing backs, the 23-year-old may be the most potent rusher that they have seen since Chris Carson back in Week 6. Mixon scored his first rushing touchdown of the year against Oakland and followed that up by recording another against the Jets in Week 13. He still has some work to do from a consistency standpoint, but he will likely keep trending in the right direction throughout the remainder of the season.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton made his return to the lineup against the Jets after a three-game absence and played relatively well, throwing for 243 yards and a touchdown on 23-for-37 passing. While the Browns Defense isn't horrible, Dalton has played historically well against them throughout his career, making his outlook more promising than usual, especially with John Ross (chest) back in the lineup. If you need a quarterback with a solid upside in Week 14, Dalton could be your guy.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel will look to build off of the efficient showing that he had against the Redskins. After struggling against the Saints in Week 12, Samuel got his act together in Week 13 by finishing with four catches for 65 yards and a score against Washington. While that wasn't the most brilliant fantasy performance that we've seen out of the 23-year-old, he has the potential to score on any given week. With Greg Olsen (concussion) out against Atlanta, look for Samuel to get some extra attention from Kyle Allen, making him a decent option in deeper formats.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore has been one of the most productive fantasy options as of late and will look to keep things moving against Atlanta on Sunday. After recording just one touchdown throughout his first 10 games of the season, Moore has three over the last two weeks. He hasn't been targeted less than eight times in each of his previous eight games and should retain his must-start status in all fantasy formats in Week 14.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey had arguably the worst performance of the season, at least as a runner, against the Redskins in Week 13. While he had a favorable matchup against one of the league's worst defenses, the 23-year-old had just 44 yards on 14 attempts to go along with an acceptable seven catches for 58 yards. That game marked only the third time all season that he failed to record a touchdown, but he should get back on track against Atlanta after playing well against them just a few weeks ago.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen has a difficult matchup on Sunday against the Falcons Defense. Atlanta has played well against opposing quarterbacks, especially as of late, and held Drees Brees to just one touchdown toss during the Thanksgiving matchup with New Orleans, while also forcing Allen to throw four picks just a few weeks ago. The 23-year-old is a different player than what we saw after he initially took over for Cam Newton (foot) earlier in the year, and should remain out of starting lineups across the board in Week 14.
Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (hands) suffered a sprained left hand and also injured the index finger on his throwing hand during the team's Week 14 loss to the Chicago Bears. Prescott is not expected to miss time.
Fantasy Spin: Replays showed Prescott banging his hand on a follow through so it's hardly a shocker that he sustained an injury of some kind. Right now the expectation is Prescott will be good to go against the Rams in Week 15.
Seattle Seahawks CB Neiko Thorpe (core) underwent surgery for a sports hernia and will miss the remainder of the season, according to head coach Pete Carroll.
The Seattle Seahawks re-signed DB Brian Allen to the practice squad on Friday, Dec. 6.
Kansas City Chiefs DE Breeland Speaks (knee) was suspended for four games on Friday, Dec. 6. Speaks was already out of the season with a knee injury.
The Seattle Seahawks signed free agent LB Jermaine Grace (Falcons) to the practice squad Thursday, Dec. 5. In a corresponding move, DB Brian Allen was released.
Miami Dolphins CB Ken Crawley (shoulder) cleared waivers and reverted to the team's Reserve/Injured list on Thursday, Dec. 5.
The Green Bay Packers Defense gets a juicy Week 14 matchup against rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins and the Washington Redskins. For the season, Washington ranks in the bottom-10 of the league in points scored, sacks allowed, and interceptions thrown. Haskins has been sacked 14 times in the last three games combined. Green Bay ranks in the bottom-10 of the league in QB pressures but should have no trouble against Washington's offensive line.
Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby will face the Washington Redskins in Week 14. The 35-year-old ranks 17th in fantasy points scored by kickers and only 26th in field goal attempts. Crosby has been money on extra points this year, sporting a 33 of 33 mark. He should have a chance to bolster these numbers against a Redskins team that allows 24.2 points per game, 21st in the NFL. Crosby should be able to nail at least a field goal and three extra points against Washington.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is a middling QB2 in Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints. With a 101.2 quarterback rating, Garoppolos season-long body of work looks great but hes surpassed 300 yards just twice and committed 14 total turnovers. Facing a challenging Saints Defense on the road, Garoppolo will likely be tasked to pace with the Saints but will have his healthiest receiving corps in weeks. In a potential shootout, Jimmy G may have upside, but his volatile results dont render him a trustworthy fantasy quarterback in the vital playoff weeks.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham gets a good matchup against the Washington Redskins. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter because the 32-year-old has seen a steady decline in snaps over the last three weeks. Graham even had a touchdown snatched away from him by backup tight end Mercedes Lewis. There's also the fact that he's registered only one catch in back-to-back games. Even the neediest of tight end needy fantasy owners should stay away from Graham this week.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard will take on the Washington Redskins in Week 14. The rookie had a career-high 103 receiving yards against the Giants last week. Lazard has out-snapped fellow receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling in three consecutive games. Unfortunately, that role hasn't lent a ton of volume, as his season-high for targets is six. Still, Aaron Rodgers seems to trust him- and he doesn't throw trust around lightly. It's worth noting that each of his three catches from last week went for 20-plus yards, giving him a boom-or-bust outlook. It's best to avoid Lazard this week.