Two incredibly similar teams will square off at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday when the Lions play host to the Dallas Cowboys. Sharing the same 4-3 record, both teams are considered to be playoff contenders as we draw ever closer to the halfway point of this 2013 NFL campaign.
The similarities between these two on offense are uncanny. Both teams boast one of the top two wideouts in all of football, Detroit having Calvin Johnson while Dallas has Dez Bryant, and know how to get the ball into their star’s hands. Regardless of defensive attention, these men know how to get open, making highlight reel catches look routine.
Double coverage? I’m not even sure why defenses bother with that anymore, it never works on either one of these guys. Just ask the Cincinnati Bengals how well triple coverage worked on Megatron last week after he hauled in a bomb over what appeared to be the entire Bengals secondary in the end zone.
The second similarity may sound a bit odd at first, but I dare you to name two quarterbacks more identical. Matthew Stafford and Tony Romo have been essentially the same person so far in 2013. At least statistically. Tony Romo has tossed for 2,010 yards while Stafford has a slightly higher 2,129. Both men have 15 touchdowns, while Stafford has 4 interceptions to Romo’s 5. Scary similar. The only difference between them really is that Romo completes 68% of his attempts while Stafford’s rate is a less efficient 61%.
One more thing in common is that these two clubs are inconsistent. The talent is there on both rosters, and has been for some time now. The problem is that neither the Lions or Cowboys have figured out how to maximize their potential and seriously be considered as a Super Bowl contender.
For the most part this season, the Dallas Cowboys have beaten who they were supposed to, while losing to the teams believed to be better than them. They have no signature wins so far this year, although a 3-0 start in divisional play is impressive. This team also hung tough against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, but did so just one week after being absolutely controlled by the San Diego Chargers. Figure that one out.
The Lions on the other hand have only strung together consecutive victories once this season, and have been more up and down in terms of wins and losses. Sure they took care of the Vikings, Browns, and Redskins just like they were supposed to, but they also lost to a less than stellar Cardinals team and failed to show up in Green Bay. The win over Chicago could be considered a signature win, but given that the Bears have fallen off dramatically lately, one questions whether or not that win really is all that impressive anymore.
Only two factors will separate these teams when they square off on Sunday. The first of which is the running game. Reggie Bush and Joquie Bell have been stellar in their first year as a duo. Bush perfectly fits Stafford’s offense, making explosive plays in the passing game as well as by taking handoffs. Bell has been a force to be reckoned with as a power back, providing the perfect compliment to Bush’s elusiveness.
When it comes to the Dallas running game, no one really knows what to expect without Demarco Murray in the lineup. Rookie Joseph Randle underwhelmed in his debut as a starter. Expect his struggles to continue against a stout Lions front seven.
That brings us to the second difference between these clubs. Defense. The Lions defense is by no means elite, however they do have a star-studded front seven. Tony Romo doesn’t have the best line protecting him, and the Lions front should feast on him as a result. A hurried Romo will struggle to keep up with a better protected Stafford all night long.
Prediction: Lions 27, Cowboys 21
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express