One team is using this season to show people that they aren’t who they’ve always been. The other is hoping this postseason won’t end like it usually does — with embarrassment. When Detroit travels to Dallas in two weeks, we’ll have a better idea of which team is destined to repeat history.
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As of right now, the Cowboys (NFC East) and the Lions (NFC North) sit atop their divisions, locked firmly into the postseason as Dallas (10-3) is the No. 2 seed in the NFC with Detroit (9-4) hanging around at No. 3. The last time these two franchises met in the postseason, the Lions lost to the Cowboys on the road in the Wild Card round of the 2014 playoffs. The time before that, it was the last time Detroit won a postseason game, a 38-6 win over Dallas in the Silverdome in 1991.
Lions fans would lose their minds if they beat the Cowboys in the postseason. But before that can happen, Detroit — and Dallas — should focus on their upcoming matchup in Texas.
For the Lions, 2023 has been proof that their fortunes could be changing as they’re building off their 9-8 finish from last year. That point was magnified when they upset the Kansas City Chiefs on the road in the season opener. But, losses to good teams like Seattle and Baltimore, and average and not-so-good teams like Green Bay (at home on Thanksgiving) and Chicago, are proof that the Lions still haven’t had a win over a “good team” since September.
This weekend, Detroit welcomes a Denver team that needs every win it can get to stay in the playoff hunt, as the Lions are coming off a head-scratching loss to Chicago. “You know what, I need to push it a little more. I just need to be a little more irritable,” said Lions coach Dan Campbell after the game. “Which I can do that.”
I guess we’ll see on Saturday night. After that, Detroit heads to Minnesota for the first of their two meetings in the final three weeks of the season, as the Vikings also need as many wins as they can get to make the postseason. After playing Denver and in between lining up against Minnesota two times in 15 days, sit the Cowboys who are on a five-game winning streak.
For Dallas, things could get interesting before Detroit comes to town. On Sunday, they travel to Buffalo to play a desperate Bills team. After that, they head to Miami to play a Dolphins team that can score more than anybody on any given day, setting up a showdown between some of the best offensive and defensive units in the league. And then the Lions come to the town.
A lot can happen between now and December 30th. But no matter if one or both of the teams are on losing or winning streaks, it’s a game that they both need to win. Dallas needs to put some space between itself and the Lions. Detroit needs to beat another good team. It’s an evening game on a holiday weekend that will air on ABC and ESPN — everyone will be watching.
And due to what happened on Thursday Night Football, these two teams have something else in common — playing the Los Angeles Chargers this season. Oddly enough, the team that let the Raiders hang 63 on them played the Lions and Cowboys tough, as they still had their franchise quarterback at the time. Dallas beat Los Angeles, 20-17 , in Week 6, and Detroit beat them, 41-38, in Week 10.
For years, the Dallas Cowboys have been a postseason proverbial letdown. All the hype from the season usually ends with sad fan reactions and continuous trolling from Stephen A. Smith. For Detroit, it’s been decades of torture, as the fan base has been praying for a season like this to prove to the rest of the league that these aren’t the “same ole Lions.” All of that will be at stake in a few weeks. For one shade of blue, a win could mean everything. For the other, a first-round bye could be in play. For both, it could wind up being the biggest game of the regular season.