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O'HARA'S WEEK 17 PREVIEW: Lions' tandem of Gibbs & Montgomery more than just a one-two punch

It's fair to call the Detroit Lions' running back duo of veteran David Montgomery and rookie Jahmyr Gibbs a one-two punch, but it doesn't explain the damage they have done to opponent defenses this season.

They've landed haymakers with their separate styles – Montgomery's slippery power, and Gibbs' explosive speed and quickness.

They've played key roles in the Lions' march to the NFC North title with an 11-4 record.

"They're both starting backs in this league for really any team," said quarterback Jared Goff. "To have them both on the same team, to have them both be able to complement each other so well, it makes us dangerous."

With the division title locked up, the Lions will try to add to their won-loss record in Saturday night's road game against the Dallas Cowboys.

With two games left in the regular season, Montgomery and Gibbs are close to their stated goal of rushing for 2,000 yards combined.

Montgomery has 910 yards rushing, 4.7 yards per attempt and 11 rushing TDs. Gibbs has 872 yards rushing, 5.7 yards per attempt and nine rushing TDs.

The bottom line on their combined production rushing reads as follows: 1,782 yards rushing, 20 rushing TDs, with two games left to reach 2,000.

Gibbs has 316 yards receiving and one TD. Montgomery has 117 yards receiving and no TDs.

The versatility and stamina Montgomery and Gibbs have displayed has helped keep them fresh and effective.

"They're able to rotate in and out," Goff said. "When you can do that, it's hard on defenses. Those two guys are special.

"We're lucky to have them."

Road tested:

The Lions have passed the road test, as expressed by Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy after his team's road loss to the Dolphins Sunday.

That made the Cowboys' won-loss record 10-5 – 7-0 at home and 3-5 on the road. The Lions are 6-2 on the road and 5-2 at home.

"These are the games that I personally really enjoy, cause I know to think you're ever going to win a championship you need these games," McCarthy said in his postgame interview.

"Especially on the road. To go win games on the road. Great road wins are things that we all remember throughout the years."

The Lions have learned to win on the road in Dan Campbell's three seasons as head coach. They were 0-8 with a tie in 2021 and improved to 4-4 in 2022 and 6-2 this year, with Saturday's road game with the Cowboys to come.

Lions' keys:

Defense: Don't let the Cowboys get out in front and dominate the game. That's how they play, and it's why they have a net of 165 points. Make a game of it, and they are not as tough.

"They are a very explosive team," Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said. "We have to be on our Ps and Qs to start this game off."

Offense: Follow the script of the last two weeks: Run the ball, protect the quarterback and limit mistakes and turnovers.

Lions-Cowboys prediction:

The Lions' run-pass balance on offense has brought them this far, and their defense has improved at a convenient time. The Lions are six-point underdogs.

My pick: Lions 30 Cowboys 20.

Who ya got?

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