DALLAS vs. DETROIT
Kickoff: Noon, Ford Field
TV: Noon, FOX
Radio: 9 a.m., 105.3 The Fan
Records: Dallas 4-3, Detroit 4-3
Series: Dallas leads, 13-11
Last meeting: Detroit, 34-30 (2011, in Dallas)
Betting line: Detroit -3
Weather: 50 degrees, 20% chance of rain
Dallas proved me wrong by winning their second in a row last week and winning on the road against Philadelphia. Once again, they have to travel this week and this time to Detroit. With a win, the Cowboys would beat a team with a winning record for the first time this season and have their first three-game winning streak since Week 13-15 in 2012. Let’s see how these two teams match up:
Dallas offense vs. Detroit defense
Tony Romo attempted his most passes of the season (47) last week in Philly, so naturally he nearly doubled his season interception total after throwing two picks against a terrible defense. Joseph Randle carried the ball 19 times, which is the second highest total for a Dallas running back this season (Murray had 26 carries against St. Louis), but he was held in check with 3.4 yards per carry. Romo completed less than 60% of his passes which is well below his season average (68.3%), but it was nice to see Terrence Williams catch a TD pass for the third consecutive week, and Williams, Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley had at least six receptions each. Once again, Dallas is facing a below average defense as Detroit is 28th in the league against the pass and 23rd against the run. The Lions do create turnovers as they are tied for third in the league with 10 interceptions and have forced eight fumbles (three recovered). Ndamukong Suh leads the team with 3.5 sacks and four tackles for a loss. Linebacker DeAndre Levy is tied for the NFL lead with four interceptions. If Romo is asked to throw 40+ passes again this week, it could be a long day for the Dallas offense, but the Cowboys still have too many weapons.
Dallas defense vs. Detroit offense
For the last several years, Detroit has been a one-dimensional team as they air out the ball as much as anybody (Stafford leads the league in attempts), but they still have a more effective running game (21st) than the Cowboys (24th). The addition of Reggie Bush has been great for the Lions as he is their leading rusher with a 4.3 YPC and is their second-leading receiver (305 yards) behind Calvin Johnson (492). Stafford has played well this season as he is ninth in the league in QB rating and thrown for 15 touchdowns while only being picked off four times. The Dallas defense kept Nick Foles in check last week as he completed less than 38% of his passes for only 80 yards before leaving the game with an injury. The Cowboys also held LeSean McCoy to his second-lowest rushing total (55) this season. This Dallas defense will have to force turnovers if they are going to be successful against Stafford and Co.
Tony Romo vs. Detroit secondary: Last week, Cincinnati QB and TCU alum Andy Dalton torched this group for 372 yards and three touchdowns, which was good enough for a 135.9 QB rating. The week before, Cleveland QB Brandon Weeden threw for nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns, but did have two interceptions. Detroit’s secondary will give up a ton of yardage, but will they be able to force Romo to make enough mistakes? I say no.
Dwayne Harris had another solid kick return (39 yards) last week against the Eagles and was able to pick up 23 yards on five punt returns. Dan Bailey has made four consecutive field goals since his miss against San Diego in Week 4. Detroit’s David Akers had a kick blocked last week against the Bengals. Veteran Michael Spurlock has five career touchdown returns, but has only been average this season with a 21.9 kickoff return average and a 7.1 punt return average.
I thought last week’s game would be a shootout, but it was more like a pillow fight from an offensive standpoint as neither team was impressive. This week, Detroit is looking to keep pace with Green Bay in the NFC North while Dallas looks to maintain their NFC East lead over the Eagles. A win this Sunday and Cowboys’ fans will start talking PLAYOFFS?!
Dallas has such artists as Dorrough, Cowboy Troy and the infamous Vanilla Ice. The Motor City features Eminem, Xzibit, Kid Rock and even Uncle Kracker. Any list that features Eminem is going to win every time.
Prediction: Dallas 24, Detroit 21
Eddie Middlebrook is the co-host of “Chin Music” and VP of Media for ShutDowninning. He can be reached at Eddie.Middlebrook@ShutDowninning.com or on Twitter @emiddlebrook