PFF Preview: Lions @ Cowboys, Wild Card Round
The sixth seed Detroit Lions will be looking to deliver what could be seen as the biggest upset of the wild card round as they travel to AT&T Stadium to take on the third seed Dallas Cowboys. The Lions come in with the third-best scoring defense, and they’ll look to try to slow down the Cowboys’ extremely balanced but high-powered offense.
For the Lions to come out on top, they’ll have to find a way to slow down the Cowboys’ dangerous rushing attack. The Cowboys have averaged 147.1 rushing yards per game all season, the second-highest mark in the league. Runningback DeMarco Murray finished the year with the second-highest rushing grade in the NFL at +16.8, and his 1845 yards were almost 500 more than the next most. It helps that the Cowboys’ offensive line has been a force run blocking this season. No starter has a run block grade below +4.8, and combined the group is at +53.3. The Cowboys have been able to pretty much run at will all season, and they’ll look to do the same again this Sunday.
The Lions counter with the best run defense in the NFL, averaging only 69.3 rushing yards against. They’ve allowed over 100 yards rushing in a game only two times all season, but have held opponents to under 70 on nine different occasions. The entire Lions starting front seven has a run defense grade over +1.2, and are led by 4-3 outside linebacker DeAndre Levy and his +21.1 run defense grade. He also leads his position with a Run Stop Percentage of 14.1% thanks to 47 run stops through the season. The Lions will look for Levy to lead the charge against Murray and the Cowboys’ offensive line and attempt to slow down that strong run game.
Ndamukong Suh – Suh had the sixth-best Run Stop Percentage (9.7%) and the fifth-best Pass Rushing Productivity (8.4) out of all defensive tackles.
Calvin Johnson – Despite missing three games and injuries limiting his play in a few others, Johnson finished with the seventh best overall grade among receivers at +16.5.
Ezekiel Ansah – He had the third best Pass Rushing Productivity among 4-3 defensive ends at 12.1, and his overall grade of +17.6 was the fifth-highest at his position.
Theo Riddick – Despite playing no more than 31 snaps in a game this season, Riddick still managed the fourth-highest receiving grade among runningbacks at +6.3 and his 2.45 Yards Per Route Run was the highest among any back with over 30 targets.
Glover Quin – He led all safeties with seven interceptions, part of the reason his coverage grade of +10.8 was the third-highest among all safeties this season.
Zack Martin – He’s allowed no sacks and only 10 total QB pressures all season, including just three in his last five games, giving him a Pass Blocking Efficiency of 98.5, third-best among guards.
Tyrone Crawford – His pass rush grade of +12.5 is the ninth-highest among defensive tackles, and that’s despite playing three games at defensive end to start the season. He had a pass rush grade of +4.8 in those three games.
Dez Bryant – Since Week 10, Bryant leads all receivers in Yards Per Route Run (3.34), Deep Passing catching percentage and yards (78.6% for 367 yards), WR Rating (155.8), touchdowns (10) and overall grade (+17.9).
Rolando McClain – He has a grade above +2.5 in all three phases of defense (pass rush, run defense, pass coverage), one of only four inside linebackers to have such a distinction, giving him the eighth best overall grade of +13.9.
Tony Romo – His PFF Quarterback Rating of 97.7 is the second-highest among QBs this season, and no QB averages more than Romo’s 8.52 yards per attempt.
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