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Playoffs Game Day Open Thread: Lions v. Cowboys

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The Dallas Cowboys have finally managed to get back into the playoffs after a several-year absence, and will be welcoming the Detroit Lions to AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

He's actually going to be paying for the privilege of playing in this game.
He's actually going to be paying for the privilege of playing in this game.
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys fans have recently been talking up QB Tony Romo as a potential MVP-candidate, replacing their earlier-season adoration of RB DeMarco Murray, and completely ignoring the contributions of their OL, specifically C Travis Frederick, OT Zack Martin, and OT Tyron Smith, in affording Romo and Murray the protections and blocking essential to completing passes or breaking long runs. Even so, Murray, Martin and Smith were honored with first team All-Pro selections, with Romo and Frederick being named second team All-Pros. WR Dez Bryant was named first team All-Pro, and is the final year of his contract, so he will be looking to show that he deserves more guaranteed money than Silver Star Satan was said to have offered. The Cowboys can also count on stalwart TE Jason Witten, though he hasn't been a target for Romo like in previous seasons.

The Cowboys will need their OL to function at its customary high level because they are facing the Lions' talented defense. First team All-Pro DT Ndamukong Suh managed to have his 1-game suspension for trampling on Aaron Rodgers' leg last week converted to a fine, making him available for the game. DT Nick Fairley, who has struggled with weight and motivation during his four years in Detroit, is battling a knee injury and is officially listed as doubtful for the game. If he can't go, that should make things a little easier for Dallas, but Suh is in the final year of his contract, and has apparently spoken of wanting a Watt-type contract, so he'll be looking to make a statement in the game. Detroit also boasts the talents of second-team All-Pro DeAndre Levy (as an ILB, he also earned votes at OLB), second team All-Pro S Glover Quin.

The Lions under Jim Caldwell--he of the emotionless visage--benefit from a powerful passing attack, led by QB Matthew Stafford, and helped by the skills of RBs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, and the receiving talents of WRs Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. They will need to be able to run and pass on Dallas' defense to have a chance of winning this afternoon.

However, the Lions are helped by the fact that Henry Melton has been placed on IR with a leg injury and there's been talk that OLB Rolando McClain will miss the game, as well. The matchup between FS Barry Church and Megatron should be interesting, with Church's talk about getting payback being met by Johnson's remark that he didn't even know who Church was. Nick Hayden, Brandon Carr, and Orlando Scandrick will be hoping to contain the Lions' offense, as well.

This season, the Cowboys are 5th in points scored (29.2), 7th in yards (383.6), 2nd in rush yards (147.1), and 17th in passing yards (236.5). The development of the running game, behind Murray, who has played 16 games for the first time in his career, has been essential to the Cowboys' season. If the Lions are going to win, they will have to shut down Murray. The Lions rank 22nd in points scored (20.1), 19th in yards (340.8), 28th in rush yards (88.9), and 12th in passing yards (251.9). On paper, it looks like Dallas should win this game handily, especially if Fairley can't go and Detroit struggles against the run. But the games are played in real life.