On Deck: Detroit Lions

Cowboys, Lions set for Wild Card duel

On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every Cowboys game during the 2014 season.

The Opponent: The Lions have made their living off of defense this year, especially in stopping the run. But they're already without top defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who's been out for eight games with a knee injury, and now they're likely without star Ndamukong Suh, who was suspended for the game for his stomping of Aaron Rodgers last week. He's appealing the suspension. Overshadowed a bit this year by that defense, unbelievably, is the fact they still have the most dangerous wide receiver in football in Calvin Johnson and a gunslinger under center in Highland Park grad Matthew Stafford.

Past Meetings: The Cowboys have a 13-12 all-time series lead and the teams have split two postseason games with the last coming in the 1991 season before the Cowboys' dynasty began the next year. The Lions have won the last two meetings — last season and in 2011.

Key Matchup: Cowboys offensive line vs. Lions shorthanded defense — The Cowboys probably had the advantage before Suh's suspension, but now they most definitely do. The Lions have been one of the league's most stingy run defenses all year, but they haven't faced an offensive line like Dallas' yet, and they also haven't seen the league's leading rusher. If the Cowboys win this matchup, and they should, they should be in good shape and on their way to the Divisional round.

Who's Hot: Stafford threw three touchdown passes in last week's loss to Green Bay with the NFC North title on the line, but he only threw for 217 yards and completed less than 50 percent of his passes. However, the three scores were against zero interceptions, so it was a productive day. Running back Joique Bell had only 13 carries but averaged 4.6 yards per carry, and Johnson caught two of Stafford's three touchdown passes.

DeMarco Murray ran for 100 yards on the dot on Sunday while setting a new franchise mark for rushing yards in a season. Dez Bryant had 99 receiving yards with two touchdown catches to set a new team record for TD catches in a season, and Bryant is staking a solid claim at Johnson's status as the league's top receiver. Tony Romo finished just a yard shy of 300 passing yards. Bruce Carter had a great day with two interceptions and was in on 11 tackles.

Who's Not: A real wild card in Detroit's offense is Reggie Bush, and the former USC star wasn't much of a factor on Sunday. If he's on, the Lions are tough to stop, but the change-of-pace back wasn't very good in the loss to Green Bay, carrying the ball five times for 19 yards while catching just three passes for 22 yards.

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Really not much to talk about here. The Cowboys' defense allowed more than 400 total yards to the Redskins, but they also got four turnovers and did a great job with the whole "bend don't break" mentality.

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