By Zach Walker
Sunday – October 27 – Noon
Ford Field – Detroit
Well, I wouldn’t have guessed that. A defensive struggle, really? Two of the league’s top offenses, playing an off-par game. But in the strange turn of events, the Cowboys proved that they can play some very tight defense. If you’re one of those who’ll say, it was just Nick Foles, a back-up quarterback. Well, okay sure, he was pretty bad, but still, the Cowboys forced him to be really ineffective. But the real way the game was won, was being able to put a complete lid on LeSean McCoy. The Cowboys shut McCoy down to the tune of 3.1 yards per carry, and for McCoy, that’s unbelievable defense. They limited cut-back lanes and filled gaps quickly so that McCoy had to make a play, just to make a nominal gain. I was most impressed by the play of the safeties, Barry Church and rookie JJ Wilcox. Barry Church would play the line scrimmage masterfully, often coming up to play McCoy. But I was massively impressed with JJ Wilcox. He was stripped of an interception off of Jason Avant’s hands, but his play of the game, and I think the defensive play of the game, was a pass towards DeSean Jackson, and initially, it looked like Jackson was all-alone for the touchdown. In roams Wilcox and played the ball as cleanly as you could possibly play it and attacked the ball at its highest point, batting the ball away. It was spectacular. The Cowboys defense would eventually knock Nick Foles out of the game, and in came fourth-round pick Matt Barkley, and the Cowboys would feast on the rookie, picking him off three times to close out the game. The defense carried the team Sunday, and it would be amazing to if they could duplicate the result on defense against the Lions.
The Detroit Lions are coming off of a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, losing in the final seconds of the game because of a Mike Nugent field goal. But the game was full of explosive plays, and one should expect that from a game with AJ Green and Calvin Johnson in it. But Calvin Johnson is a player who makes coverages look foolish and at times, pointless. He can just tower over players and when you factor in his ability to climb the latter to get the ball, he is pretty much king of the hill in the NFL. What is different for the Lions this year is the way they are using their running backs, especially Reggie Bush. People have been saying all year, that this is the offense that Bush should have always been in. I look at it differently; I say this is the only offense that is bold enough to feature him as their number one back and number two passing option. It’s paying off for the Lions, though. And just like the NFC East, the Lions are trying to take advantage of a down year in the NFC North. The Bears started hot, and now are without Cutler for a month; the Packers are once again, ravaged by injuries; and the Vikings, refer to Monday night to see the state of that club. So the Lions are trying to start to pull away from the rest of their division, just like the Cowboys are trying to do.
The Cowboys top receiver, Dez Bryant, said earlier this week that he can do many of the things that Calvin Johnson can do, and his words were spun to make it seem like he “said” he was better than Calvin. It is amazing words that are printed in black and white are up for so much grey interpretation. And I HATE how Dez had to come out and clarify his own open-and-shut words. It is unreal how, when this great player admits another great player is a great player, and he states that he can do some of the same play making things that the best receiver in the league can do, and gets shot down, it’s haunting. I want Dez’ sights on the top, because he’ll be there soon. I wouldn’t trade Dez Bryant for any wide receiver in the league, that includes Calvin, Fitzgerald, AJ Green, anybody. But what greatness came out of this, was that Dallas players came out, backed their teammate, and said Calvin shouldn’t worry about Dez Bryant, he should be focused on Brandon Carr. The Cowboys key to the game is getting pressure on Matthew Stafford, who has only been sacked nine times on the season. DeMarcus Ware might play, he’s rehabbing and could possibly be a game-time decision, and it would be huge to get him back in the fold.
Matchup of the Week: Dallas CB Brandon Carr vs Detroit WR Calvin Johnson: No one player has been able to consistently handle Johnson, he is simply too big and too strong when he goes to get the ball. And the more compounding problem is that Matthew Stafford and him have a play-making connection, when all looks lost for the Lions, a simply heave and Johnson is there, he’s going to out-ball everybody to get the football, look at what he did a week ago against the Bengals, who had triple coverage on him, it was almost like they weren’t even there. But Brandon Carr has been on damn-near lights out over the last two games. I know DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon aren’t Calvin Johnson, but they are their team’s top receiving threats. It would take a serious all-pro caliber game from Carr to try and contain Johnson.
Matchups to watch for:
DAL S Barry Church vs DET RB Reggie Bush
DAL C Travis Frederick vs DET DT Ndamukong Suh
DAL LB Bruce Carter vs DET RB Joique Bell
DAL DE George Selvie vs DET OT Riley Reiff
DAL LB Sean Lee vs DET TE Brandon Pettigrew
DAL TE Jason Witten vs DET LB DeAndre Levy
DAL OT Doug Free vs DET DE Ziggy Ansah
Last Week’s Players of the Game
Offense: Dez Bryant
Defense: JJ Wilcox and Barry Church
Special Teams: Chris Jones
Prediction: Dallas 30 – Detroit 28