The Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions will be playing in a big NFC battle on Sunday as both teams look to stay in the playoff race in the conference.
At 4-3, the Cowboys are on top of a very weak NFC East division. Meanwhile, the Lions also have a 4-3 record but are behind the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. At this point, it looks like it could be a three-team race in that division, with the Chicago Bears also looking like a playoff team, even with their injuries.
Let's go ahead and take a look at this exciting matchup for Sunday, followed by a couple of storylines and predictions for both teams.
|Dallas Cowboys (4-3) at Detroit Lions (4-3)|
|Date||Sunday, Oct. 27|
Tony Romo Looks to Continue Hot Start
As much as everyone has criticized Tony Romo this year, he's still having one of the best seasons of his career.
Through seven games, Romo is completing over 68 percent of his passes for 2,010 yards, 15 touchdowns and just five interceptions. If he continues this pace, he could have just his second season with a passer rating of over 100, with the other coming back in 2011.
Right now, the Cowboys rank third in the NFL with 28.6 points scored per game. The only teams ahead of them are the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears, and the Bears will likely fall down the list after losing Jay Cutler to a groin injury for the next few weeks.
Romo has plenty of weapons to throw to this year. Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Terrance Williams have all been good this year, and that's helping Romo have another big season.
Prediction: Dez Bryant Outplays Calvin Johnson
There's been a lot of talk about Bryant vs. Johnson this week, and I firmly believe that Dez will at least outplay Calvin Johnson in this matchup.
Plenty of people have been comparing the two wide receivers this week, and ESPN Stats & Info even provided this comparison between the two players through their first 50 games:
While both defenses struggle against the pass, Bryant has an ideal matchup going up against Chris Houston, who has certainly struggled in coverage this season. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Houston has the second-lowest overall grade on defense for the Lions at negative 5.2, with a minus 6.0 grade in pass coverage.
In just his fourth NFL season, Johnson is looking like one of the best receivers in the NFL, and he should continue to make that true on Sunday.
Lions Finally Showing a Bit of Offensive Balance
In 2012, Matthew Stafford threw the ball 727 times, a single-season NFL record. This season, he's on pace to throw 663 times, and while that's still a lot, it's also a sign that the Lions are starting to have a more balanced offense
Stafford is a good quarterback, but he needed some help in the backfield. He has just that this season with Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. The two have combined for over 1,200 total yards along with six touchdowns.
There's still some work to be done in the ground game, as the Lions rank 21st in the league with just 91.7 yards per game on the ground.
However, Detroit does have some playmakers in the backfield that can break off big plays, and just the threat of Bush and Bell back there has taken some of the pressure off of Stafford this season.
Prediction: Reggie Bush Has Breakout Game
Bush has had some solid games this season, but he's yet to have more than one touchdown or more than 200 total yards in a game.
That will change on Sunday.
The Cowboys don't have the strongest defense this season. They've allowed 291.9 passing yards, 102 rushing yards and 22.1 points per game.
With a lot of focus likely going to Johnson and Stafford, Bush should have some opportunities to break off some big plays. We've seen a few from him this season, but no more than one or two in a game.
This Sunday, expect Bush to have more than a few big plays as he has one of the best games of his career.
It's going to be a close one, but I think that the Lions can pull it out.
Both teams have a number of big names on offense and weaker defenses, but I trust Stafford more than I do Romo. Both quarterbacks are going to have statistically solid games, but I think that Romo comes up with a crucial late-game interception that costs his team a chance at winning.
With a big day from Bush and some big stops by Detroit's intimidating front seven, the Lions will win thanks to a game-winning field goal.
Prediction: Lions 27, Cowboys 24