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.
Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary has 55 touches over his past three games and figures to have a heavy workload once again in Week 14 against the Ravens. Singletary is averaging a remarkable 5.6 yards per carry on the year and has topped 100 yards in each of his past two games. The Ravens allow the sixth-fewest rushing yards per game in the league and they will pose a challenge for Singletary, but his talent and workload should be enough to make his day solid. Expect around 18 touches for Singletary, giving him a solid shot to gain between 80 and 100 yards.
Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore has continued to be heavily involved in the team's offense. He has had double-digit touches in three straight games. However, he's struggled to make the most of his touches, particularly in Week 13, when he rushed for just 11 yards on nine carries. Devin Singletary is the clear No. 1 running back in the offense, with Gore behind him. The Bills face a tough Ravens run defense this week and it will be hard enough for Singletary to find running room, so it's impossible to trust Gore in the matchup. He can be left on waivers or dropped at this point.
Buffalo Bills running back T.J. Yeldon has been inactive for six straight weeks and there's little reason to believe that streak will end against the Ravens this week. The Bills are going exclusively with Devin Singletary and Frank Gore at this point, making Yeldon unworthy of ownership in any league format.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen has scored multiple touchdowns in eight straight games, but this week, he has a particularly difficult test against the Ravens, who are allowing just 18.2 points per game on the year. Allen has done well against tough matchups vs. the Cowboys and Broncos the past two weeks, so there's reason to believe he could end up fine once again this week. If you have better options on the table, you might want to consider benching Allen in one-quarterback leagues. In two-quarterback leagues, he's good to go as a mid-tier QB2.
New York Giants QB Eli Manning is 'very likely' to start against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, Dec. 9, according to head coach Pat Shurmur.
Fantasy Spin: An ankle injury is the culprit for Daniel Jones, who is expected to give way to Manning on MNF. It would certainly be a nice moment if Manning stepped in and led his team to an upset win in prime time, but it seems unlikely given the team's overall struggles and Manning's before he got benched. He's not worth rolling the dice on.
Oakland Raiders LB Quentin Poling and OG Kyle Kalis were released from the practice squad on Wednesday, Dec. 4.
San Francisco 49ers WRs Trent Taylor (foot) and Jalen Hurd (back) will not be activated from the Reserve/Injured list and will miss the remainder of the 2019 season, according to NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco.
The San Francisco 49ers re-signed free agent CB Antone Exum to a one-year contract on Wednesday, Dec. 4.
Former Philadelphia Eagles WR Mack Hollins was claimed off waivers by the Miami Dolphins Wednesday, Dec. 4. The Dolphins also signed C Evan Brown off the New York Giants practice squad, waived/injured CB Ken Crawley (shoulder) and waived OG Chris Reed.
Los Angeles Rams TE Gerald Everett (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 4.
Fantasy Spin: Everett did not play last week because of the injury and could miss another game if he does not practice this week. Fantasy players should look for other options to use and keep Everett on the bench.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill (hamstring) fully participated in practice Wednesday, Dec. 4.
Fantasy Spin: Hill has been targeted at least eight times in four of the last five games and will continue to be one of the main options in the passing game for the Chiefs. He should be a starting option in all leagues this week.
Kansas City Chiefs CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder), CB Rashad Fenton (hamstring) and RB Darrel Williams (hamstring) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 4. DE Frank Clark (shoulder) was limited during practice. OT Eric Fisher (groin), CB Kendall Fuller (thumb), S Jordan Lucas (shoulder), DT Derrick Nnadi (elbow) and DE Alex Okafor (ankle) fully participated in practice.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (back) said his back is healing "as it should" and that the injury won't be something that's an issue in 2020 or beyond. Stafford will miss his fifth straight game in Week 14 against the Vikings, though, and it seems unlikely he'll return in 2019. The Lions are 0-4 in Stafford's absence and are now down to third-stringer David Blough after Jeff Driskel (hamstring) was put on Injured Reserve last weekend. Before his injury, Stafford had 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns in the first eight games of the season. He was on pace to set career highs in passer rating (106) and yards per attempt (8.6). Heading into next season, Stafford will be a highly coveted high-end QB2 for fantasy owners.
Kansas City Chiefs RB Damien Williams (rib) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 4.
Fantasy Spin: Williams may have a chance to play in the Week 14 game but probably will have to practice at some point this week. Fantasy players will need to check on his status later in the week because he should be a starting option if he plays.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (knee) fully participated in practice Wednesday, Dec. 4.
Fantasy Spin: Mahomes has thrown for under 200 yards in each of the last two games and has only two touchdowns during that span. He will be facing a tough New England Patriots defense this week but can still be a starting option in all fantasy leagues.
New England Patriots DE Byron Cowart (head) and C Ted Karras (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 4. LB Ja'Whaun Bentley (knee), OT Marcus Cannon (illness), SS Patrick Chung (heel) and CB Jason McCourty (groin) were limited during practice.
Seattle Seahawks FB Nick Bellore (quadriceps), TE Luke Willson (hamstring), OT Duane Brown (biceps, knee), CB Neiko Thorpe (core) and LB Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 4. TE Jacob Hollister (quadriceps), OG Mike Iupati (neck), DE Ziggy Ansah (neck) and DE Jadeveon Clowney (core) were limited during practice.
New England Patriots WR Mohamed Sanu (ankle) was limited during practice Wednesday, Dec. 4.
Fantasy Spin: Sanu has been held to 23 yards or less in three of the four games he has played for the Patriots and has not shown good chemistry with Tom Brady. He could be a flex option in some leagues but is not a must-start option.
New England Patriots QB Tom Brady (elbow, toe) fully participated in practice Wednesday, Dec. 4.
Fantasy Spin: Brady is coming off one of his better games of the season last week but only has five touchdowns in the last four games. He will be facing an improving Kansas City Chiefs defense this week but could still be a low-end No. 1 quarterback in some deeper leagues.
New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (shoulder) was limited during practice Wednesday, Dec. 4.
Fantasy Spin: Edelman has been a limited participant for most of the season but has not missed any game. He continues to be the main option in the passing game for the Patriots and is a must-start option in fantasy leagues.