Either Cowboys or Lions will end their NFL playoff drought

Ndamukong Suh's suspension being lifted is key to Lions' defense being able to handle Cowboys

Slowing running back DeMarco Murray is a huge key to stopping the Dallas Cowboys.

The Detroit Lions caught a big break in that regard this week when the NFL reduced the one-game suspension of All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to a hefty fine.

Suh was punished for intentionally stepping on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and that seems to be a chronic problem with the Lions. Detroit center Dominic Raiola was suspended for the team's finale after stomping on the leg of a Chicago defensive lineman.

"I know I'm chomping at the bit to get back out there," Raiola told reporters this week. "I just think this team is hungry. The more shots that people take at us, the stronger we get, the tougher we get."

The Dallas Cowboys have won just one playoff game since 1997. The Detroit Lions have lost seven postseason games in a row, dating to 1991.

Something's got to give.

Tony's time

Does Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo have what it takes to be a great postseason quarterback, or does he simply have warning-track power? Here's another chance for him to prove he can get it done in the playoffs. He led NFL quarterbacks this season with a franchise-record passer rating of 113.2. In December, he was 4-0 with 12 touchdowns and one interception.

Golden rule

One of the more interesting matchups to watch — for the extracurricular, at least — is Cowboys safety Barry Church versus Lions receiver Golden Tate, who verbally sparred this week over an old grudge. Church said he was looking to pay back Tate for a blindside block on Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee two years ago, back when Tate was playing for Seattle. (Lee didn't play this season because of an unrelated knee injury.)

"We're definitely going to keep our radar out for [Tate] because that was a dirty shot," Church said on his weekly radio show. "We're looking forward to seeing him. We'll definitely get him back after that, but it will be within the rules."

Said Tate: "The game has to be played on Sunday, and an old great told me, 'You can't hit what you can't catch.' So we'll see on Sunday."

By the numbers

How teams compare statistically. All stats are per-game averages, except for sacks and turnover differential, which are for the season (league rank in parentheses):


Points scored: 20.1 (22) | 29.2 (5)

Points allowed: 17.6 (3) | 22 (15)

Pass offense: 251.9 (12) | 236.5 (16)

Rush offense: 88.9 (28) | 147.1 (2)

Pass defense: 231.6 (13) | 251.9 (26)

Rush defense: 69.3 (1) | 103.1 (8)

Sacks: 42 (8) | 28 (28)

Penalty yards: 53.0 (11) | 53.8 (14)

Turnovers: +7 (6) | +6 (9)

The Cowboys did a great job keeping their defense off the field this season by running the ball so effectively. For the Lions, getting Suh's suspension lifted was huge. The Cowboys won't be able to run the ball as well against that front seven, and the Lions will have some opportunities against the defense.

Farmer's pick


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