As we approach the quartermark of the NFL season, the Detroit Lions are riding high. They are 3-0 for the first time since 1980, and are coming off a road win in Minnesota. Now, they are on the road again, headed down to Dallas to take on the Cowboys. Can they possibly win their third road game of the season and go to 4-0?
The Cowboys are coming off a hard fought win against Washington on Monday, but they are also banged up. Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, Dallas’ top two receivers, and dealing with injuries, and Austin didn’t play last week. Felix Jones, their top running back, is also hurt, as is quarterback Tony Romo. They struggled against Washington on offense, having to settle for field goal after field goal. Can Detroit do the same thing?
Dallas’ offensive line also struggled, which certainly does not bode well against Detroit’s defensive line, even if they are without Nick Fairley again. That certainly hasn’t hurt them so far. I expect Bryant and Jones to play, based on the fact they played last week, but Austin could certainly miss, which would help Detroit stop the pass. Also, Dallas has struggled running the ball, perhaps even as much as Detroit has.
However, the Cowboys are still 2-1, and came close to 3-0, and they owe it mostly to their defense (and field goals). However, while the Cowboys have done quite well against the run, they haven’t done quite as well against the pass. This could bode well for the Lions, considering how well they’ve thrown the ball around. Matthew Stafford has been excellent, and Calvin Johnson has been outstanding. Nobody on Dallas is going to be able to shut down Johnson, I presume, and they have plenty of other options as well. It would be nice to see Jahvid Best get going on the ground however, and neither Jerome Harrison nor Keiland Williams has done much yet.
One issue for Detroit when they are on offense could be the Cowboys’ pass rush. New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who looks like his twin brother Rex in a bad disguise, is pretty well respected, and he has some good pieces to work with. In particular, DeMarcus Ware may be the best pass rusher in the NFL. While the Lions let up no sacks the first two weeks of the season, they let up five last week, including three to Jared Allen. Ware could be in for an Allen-like day if Detroit doesn’t play better on the offensive line this week.
This is looking like a close matchup, although injuries will play into. Just how well can Dallas’ banged up players do? Will the Cowboys have the same issues with their offensive line? Can Ndamukong Suh and company make it a long day for Romo? It would be amazing if the Lions could run their record up to 4-0. It could definitely happen. However, in another close matchup, I think the fact Dallas is at home pushes things just slightly into their favor. Still, even if the Lions lose, a 3-1 record based on their opponents would still be quite impressive. Final Prediction: Cowboys 24, Lions 21