I was lucky enough to catch up with Full Press Coverage Lions Managing Editor Matt Urben ahead of Sunday’s showdown at AT&T Stadium. The Lions are 1-2 on the year but are coming off of an impressive win against the Patriots. Matt gives his take on the game including a final prediction below. Be sure to check out our return interview with FPC Lions here.
Tony: The Lions have had an up and down first three weeks, to say the least. In your opinion is this team closer to the version that played the Jets? Or last week’s team that beat New England?
Matt: That’s a great question and one we don’t know the answer to just yet. This game will tell us a lot about how the team really views and is responding to head coach Matt Patricia. As encouraging as last week was, there’s still a chance it was an anomaly based of Patricia’s knowledge of the Patriots organization. They’ve been generally playing better each week, though, so it could be a trend.
Tony: Detroit has a potent trio of receivers in Tate, Jones, and Golladay. What is the current pecking order in QB Matt Stafford’s eyes? Who does Dallas need to focus on?
Matt: Stafford and the three receivers will all tell you they don’t look at it like that. But from Stafford’s vantage point, it looks like Kenny Golladay is the becoming the guy. Each brings something different: Jones is the speedy deep threat, Tate’s the underneath catch-and-run monster, while Golladay can do it all and is the biggest target by far at 6-foot-4.
Tony: Last week Kerryon Johnson became the first Lions running back to rush for 100 yards since Reggie Bush. Has he solidified his role as Detroit’s lead back?
Matt: You would think that Kerryon has solidified the lead back role, and fans have been clamoring for it since the preseason. However, Matt Patricia has stuck to the by-committee approach, using Riddick, Blount, and Johnson. Although Johnson is by far the best runner on the roster and is capable of doing everything the Lions need. He should be the number one guy going forward.
Tony: The Lions defense has been pretty stout so far this season, especially against the pass. How should the Cowboys attack this group in order to have the most success?
Matt: The Cowboys should stick with the running attack because outside of the game against the Patriots, Detroit has not been able to stop it whatsoever. Throwing against Darius Slay and Glover Quin is not a good idea. Prescott, I truly believe, is a very capable quarterback. But the strength of the Cowboys is the running game led by Zeke Elliott. Establish the run and burn Detroit with play action shots is what I’d do if I was Linehan.
Tony: Finally, what is your final score prediction? Something crazy always happens when these two teams clash. Any bold predictions?
Matt: It’s definitely something special every time these two teams meet up. I know Dallas doesn’t have the horses up front to run roughshod over the Lions defense as they did on Monday night in 2016. Yet, I do expect them to find success running the ball. With Matthew Stafford finally playing well, though, and the momentum from last week’s big win, I’ll go Lions 28, Cowboys 27.