LIONS INSIDER

GAME PREVIEW: Lions-Cowboys match-up should come down to the wire

Posted Oct 27, 2013

The battle between these evenly-matched teams will likely come down to turnovers and quarterback play

HISTORY

The Lions have won nine of the last 16 regular season meetings against the Cowboys but Dallas holds the series edge, 12-10.

The Lions overcame a 24-point deficit in the third quarter to beat Dallas 34-30 in 2011. The win was the second consecutive 20-plus-point comeback that season, becoming the first team in NFL history to accomplish the feat.

A LOOK AT THE STATS

 LIONSCOWBOYS
Record 4-3 4-3
Points per game 26.6 (8) 28.6 (3)
Total yards per game 386.1 (7) 352.4 (13)
Rushing yards 91.7 (21) 83.3 (24)
Passing yards 294.7 (5) 269.1 (8)
Points allowed 23.9 (21) 22.1 (16)
Total yards allowed 397.1 (31) 393.9 (29)
Rushing yards allowed 115.1 (23) 102.0 (13)
Passing yards allowed 282.0 (28) 291.9 (30)
Turnover ratio +5 (7t) +5 (7t)

BY THE NUMBERS

67.9: Passer rating for Dallas quarterback Tony Romo on third down, which ranks 23rd in the NFL.

29.9: Percent conversion rate on third down for opposing offenses against the Lions defense. The Lions are the No. 2 third-down defense in the NFL allowing a conversion on just 26 of 87 attempts.

1: Turnover forced by the Lions defense in their losses this season.

KEY MATCHUPS

Chris HoustonChris Houston wants his play to speak for itself today. (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

CB Chris Houston vs. WR Dez Bryant

Houston declined to talk to reporters this week, instead wanting his play today to do the talking.

The Lions need his play to talk loud and clear against one of the league's best in Bryant today.

Rashean Mathis is likely to draw some duty vs. Bryant, too, but Houston is the key matchup to watch. He's been picked on all year and is coming off rough outings vs. Green Bay, Cleveland and Cincinnati the last three weeks.

Houston needs to get his confidence back. Facing the league's third-best offense is a good opportunity to do so.

RB Reggie Bush vs. Cowboys front seven

The Cowboys did a good job against LeSean McCoy last week, holding the Eagles' running back to 55 yards on 18 carries.

The Lions rank 21st in the NFL in rushing at 91.7 yards per game, but that number plunges to 63.3 in their three losses.

The Lions are best on offense when they get some explosion plays from the run game to keep defenses honest.

The trench war

Dallas is down to mostly backups on the defensive line, as its top three pass rushers -- DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer and Tyrone Crawford -- are out with injuries.

The Lions are dealing with injuries upfront on offense to Riley Reiff (hamstring) and Jason Fox (knee), though both players are expecting to play and start.

Defensively, the Lions front has failed to significantly impact the game in their three losses. The Cowboys have allowed 16 sacks on the season, but the Lions defense has just 13 in seven games.

QB Matthew Stafford vs. QB Tony Romo

When two teams are as closely matched at the Lions and Cowboys, the difference between a win and a loss usually comes down to turnovers and quarterback play.

The Cowboys have allowed 400-plus-passing yard performances to Eli Manning (450 yards), Peyton Manning (414) and Philip Rivers (401) this season.

The Lions rank 28th vs. the pass and have given up five pass plays of 40-plus yards and two 80-plus-yard plays already this season.

Romo has thrown more interceptions (3) than touchdowns (2) the last two weeks, but the Cowboys have won both games vs. Washington and at Philadelphia.

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: LIONS

Joseph Fauria, TE:

Fauria leads all NFL rookies with five touchdowns, but had just one catch in an expanded role last week. Can he make more of an impact this week?

Ndamukong Suh, DT:

Suh leads the Lions with 3.5 sacks and needs to have a big impact today. Suh's pressures have lead to two interceptions this year. Even when he isn't recording sacks, his pressure is making an impact.

Glover Quin, S:

The Lions have to limit the big plays on defense. Quin and fellow safety Louis Delmas are the last line of defense for the Lions. They have to have their best game of the season today against an offense that can score quickly from any place on the field.

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: COWBOYS

Jason Witten, TE:

His 841 catches rank second all-time by a tight end. Since 2007, he has 589 catches, most by an NFL tight end. He's Romo's security blanket.

Terrance Williams, WR:

He aims for his fourth game in a row with a touchdown. The rookie has emerged as a legitimate No. 2 option on the outside for Romo. Williams has 380 receiving yards, most by any NFC rookie.

Jason Hatcher, DT:

Has three sacks over his past two games and is second in the NFC with six sacks on the year.