Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mane Matchup // Week 4: Lions @ Cowboys

This conference ain't big enough fer the two of us.

This may not be a NFC North division game, but it is a Wildcard Division game. Detroit and Dallas are two good teams that are likely to be held down by other teams in their division (Green Bay and  Philadelphia). I know every game matters, but this game is important.

The biggest factor in this game is going to be Tony Romo. In week one Romo had 352 yards with TD and a pick, in week two 345 yards and 2 TDs and in week three 264 yards and a pick. Romo's play is clearly being slowed by his injury, Dez Bryant's injury and the absence of Miles Austin. I imagine both Romo and Bryant will be in somewhat better shape than they were on Monday, but both will be hurting.

Last season when the Lions played at Dallas they surrendered two touchdown passes to Miles Austin. By all accounts Austin will not play this Sunday. Dez Bryant hauled down a touchdown last season as well but has been playing through a quad injury. Romo is going to have to look elsewhere to put points on the board.

Enter Jason Witten. While tight ends haven't exactly lit this Detroit defense up this year, Jason Witten is going to do just that. He is averaging over 90 yards a game and has two 100+ yards games in the books already. His numbers took a slight hit last week, but he'll be looking to bounce back. If the Lions bottle up Jones he'll be the Cowboys' only hope.

Felix Jones had 115 yards last week against Washington. Jones is once again going to have to play a large role in this offense with Romo slowed by his ribs, though I don't expect more than 60 rushing yards out of him.

Jason Witten and Felix Jones are going to be the focal points of an offense that has scored an average of 23 points per game. On the other side of the ball Detroit's defense has surrendered an average of 15.3 points per game. It will be interesting to see which way this game will swing. I imagine they'll meet somewhere in the middle.

Dallas's defense has given up 12 sacks so far this season. That would set the pace for the Lions to get about 4 or 5 and with Romo already injured we may see some bad decisions or maybe even some Kitna.

Last week's first half debacle in Minnesota proved how a few players can impact the outcome of the game. DeMarcus Ware, Sean Lee and Jay Ratliff are capable of doing that again this week. Detroit's offensive line has been exposed and teams are going to continually test it all season. However, if they can keep Stafford clean, look for the NFL's number one receiver to continue to do work.

I expect to see Detroit combat Dallas's rush by getting the ball out quick to Best and Pettigrew early and often. Dallas's defense has been giving up decent numbers to backs catching the ball out of the backfield so Jahvid Best could have a big day if he gets out in space.

I was coming into this game thinking the Lions would notch their first loss of 2011, but after looking at the numbers and the injuries to Dallas I have to go with the Lions for the win. They'll pick up their eighth consecutive victory and an unprecedented fifth consecutive road victory.

Final: Detroit 27 - Dallas 20


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