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Lions vs. Cowboys Preview

The Lions look to rebound from their most disappointing loss of the season against the resurgent Cowboys in Dallas tomorrow.  I am changing up the format of the previews, since the Lions’ advantages and disadvantages are starting to be the same every week.

Offense:

The Cowboys’ pass defense has been brutal this season, which obviously plays into the Lions’ favor.  The Cowboys do have DeMarcus Ware and a decent pass rush, but their coverage has broken down in the secondary before the rush can get to the quarterback.  The Lions’ pass protection has been sound this season other than an occasional busted play.  Terrance Newman is Dallas’ best cover corner and he will most likely spend most of his day on Calvin Johnson, which is a matchup that favors the Lions.  Nate Burleson should have opportunities as the defense rolls towards CJ and 3-4 defenses have had a hard time covering the Lions’ tight ends this season.

The Lions’ running game has been underwhelming since Jahvid Best suffered his dual turf toe injuries.  Kevin Smith has been solid spelling Best, but he is out for at least a month so Maurice Morris will have to fill in.  The Lions have been calling a lot of misdirection and trap plays to try to spring Best in the open field, but Best has been robbed of his explosiveness and the timing of those plays is off.  The line also has struggled with these plays, so it’s in the Lions’ best interest to switch to a more traditional ground game to take heat off the passing game.

Defense:

The Cowboys’ offense has been making strides under Jon Kitna and Dez Bryant is emerging as a threat.  Miles Austin and Jason Witten will create a lot of matchup problems for the Lions so don’t expect a lot of blitzing because the Lions can’t afford to play a lot of man coverage.  The pass rush should rebound a little against a weak Dallas line, but Kyle Vanden Bosch is struggling with some injuries and Cliff Avril is most likely out.  The Lions should still be able to generate a rush, but they are not at the level they were a few weeks ago.

The Cowboys are actually one of the few teams that have struggled more than the Lions to run the ball.  Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice are all capable runners, but the Cowboys’ line has hampered them as well as playing from behind a lot.  The Lions’ linebackers have given opposing running backs all the room they could dream of if they can get past the line, so expect the Dallas running game to contribute.  DeAndre Levy has helped stabilize the rush defense, but he can’t do it all and Julian Peterson looks like a shadow of the player he was last year.

Wild Card:

The Cowboys had an emotionally charged win last week after Jason Garrett took over as head coach.  They looked like the Cowboys everybody expected, but was it a one week thing or have they turned the corner?  If the emotion played out, the Lions are in good shape.  If Garrett has unlocked the vast potential of this team, the Lions may be in serious trouble.

Prediction:

The Lions’ pass rush is not quite as potent with the injuries and the Cowboys’ passing offense is starting to click.  Combine that with the Lions’ inability to run and their struggles on the road and it looks like the Lions will fall to 2-8 tomorrow.


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