Christmas came early for the Dallas Cowboys, who clinched the NFC East title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs before taking the field in Week 16. With the New York Giants losing to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night, it secured the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye for Dallas, which will host the Detroit Lions on Monday night.
While the Cowboys have nothing for which to play, the stakes remain plenty high for the NFC North-leading Lions, who could have a playoff berth wrapped by before Monday night’s kickoff. Detroit is trying to stave off resurgent Green Bay, holding a one-game lead over the Packers with a potential winner-take-all showdown looming in Week 17. Dallas coach Jason Garrett and Lions counterpart Jim Caldwell both have said they do not plan on resting their starters regardless of the circumstances, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expounded on the thought process in a radio interview Friday. “I know that in our (2007) season here with Wade Phillips, we had a great season and then we turned around and got into the playoffs and rested pretty good the last ballgame,” Jones said. “And we ended up losing the first playoff game that we had with home-field bye all the way through.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: Oddsmakers opened the Cowboys as 7.5-point home favorites, but since then the number has bounced back and forth between -7 and -6.5, where it currently sits. The total hit the board at 41.5 and has been bet all the way up to the current number of 45. Check out the complete line history here.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Lions (-0.5) – Cowboys (-5) + home field (-3) = Cowboys -7.5
WEATHER REPORT: N/A.
Lions – QB M. Stafford (probable Monday, finger), DE Z. Asah (questionable Monday, shoulder), S R. Bush (questionable Monday, back), LB D. Levy (questionable Monday, knee), DT H. Ngata (questionable Monday, quadricep), RB A. Abdullah (questionable Monday, foot) RB T. Riddick (doubtful Monday, wrist), C T. Swanson (doubtful Monday, concussion), CB D. Slay (doubtful Monday, hamstring).
Cowboys – D. Bryant (probable Monday, back), DT T. Crawford (questionable Monday, shoulder), OT T. Smith (questionable Monday, back), DE J. Crawford (questionable Monday, foot), LB S. Lee (questionable Monday, knee), S J. Wilcox (questionable Monday, thigh), DE D. Lawrence (questionable Monday, back), DL C. Thornton (questionable Monday, ankle), LB J. Durant (questionable Monday, elbow), DE B. Mayowa (questionable Monday, undisclosed), OL L. Collins (questionable Monday, toe).
ABOUT THE LIONS (9-5, 8-6 ATS, 4-10, O/U): Detroit is coming off its lowest offensive output of the season in a 17-6 loss to the New York Giants last weekend, which snapped a five-game winning streak. “Often times we’ve won several games in a row. We had one bump in the road,” Caldwell said of any lasting effect the loss to the Giants may have on his team, which last won a division title in 1993. “A lot of teams have that. It’s what you do after that is what counts.” The Lions feature one of the league’s least productive ground games, ranking 30th overall at 81.7 yards per game, and could again be without leading rusher Theo Riddick (wrist), who also is third on the team with 53 receptions but did not practice Friday. Detroit’s defense has been sturdy against the run (98.9 yards allowed), but cornerback Darius Slay (hamstring) also did not practice Friday
ABOUT THE COWBOYS (12-2, 9-5 ATS, 5-9 O/U): The natural question among Dallas followers is whether the team will rest rookie quarterback Dak Prescott in one of the final two games and get Tony Romo on the field. “I’m not going to answer you because I don’t want to get anything going at all,” Jones said. “I have to pinch myself to think about where we are at the quarterback position knowing how critical a setback or an injury is to any position. But especially at that position as we look to this playoff, that would be very near the top of my list what we’ve got at the position.” Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott could be in line for some rest, leading the league with 1,551 rushing yards — more than 300 ahead of runner-up DeMarco Murray. Linebacker Randy Gregory, back from serving two drug-related suspensions, is expected to make his season debut against Detroit.
* Lions are 5-1 ATS in their last six Monday games.
* Cowboys are 0-4 ATS in their last four games overall.
* Under is 8-0 in Lions’ last eight games overall.
* Under is 7-0 in Cowboys’ last 7 games in December.
Check out the complete list of hot and cold trends here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: With the Lions having a little more to play for than the Cowboys, 61 percent of wagers are backing Detroit. As for the total, a whopping 71 percent of wagers are on the Over 45. Check out the complete consensus data here.