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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 8 CAR at TB (THU) DAL at DET NYJ at CIN SEA at STL (MON)
ATL at ARI GB at MIN PIT at OAK On Bye:
BUF at NO MIA at NE SF at JAC BAL, CHI, HOU
*UPDATED CLE at KC NYG at PHI WAS at DEN IND, SD, TEN

Prediction: DAL 23, DET 30 (Line: DET by 3)

Players of Interest: Cole Beasley

Update: Reggie Bush practiced fully this week but was held out on Friday to rest his knee. He is listed as probable and expected to play without any limitation. DeMarco Murray is listed as questionable and was limited in all practices this week but is expected to play. Lance Dunbar is also probable and has healed enough from his hamstring enough to play. All this really does is throw the backfield into a complete mess since Murray and Dunbar are #1 and #2 but both are still not 100% healthy. Add in that they are on the road against a good front defensive line of the Lions and none of them standout as a great start this week. There is risk on relying on any of them so check pregame actives to make sure the Cowboys don't decide to sit the one you wanted.

Miles Austin is listed as questionable but was limited all week and is not expected to play.

The 4-3 Cowboys are on a two game winning streak if only because they were playing fellow NFC East opponents. Dallas is 1-2 on the road. The Lions are also 4-3 thanks to their recent loss to the Bengals which dropped them to 2-1 in home games. This game at least has a chance of being one of the higher scoring tilts of the weekend. But it requires the Cowboys to play better on the road against a non-divisional opponent for the first time.

1 NYG 36-31 10 @NO -
2 @KC 16-17 11 BYE WEEK
3 STL 31-7 12 @NYG -
4 @SD 21-30 13 OAK -
5 DEN 48-51 14 @CHI -
6 WAS 31-16 15 GB -
7 @PHI 17-3 16 @WAS -
8 @DET - 17 PHI -
9 MIN - ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
DAL @ DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Tony Romo 290,2
QB Brandon Weeden 180,1
RB Lance Dunbar 20
RB DeMarco Murray 40 1-10
RB Joseph Randle 20 1-10
WR Cole Beasley 5-60,1
WR Dez Bryant 7-100,1
WR Terrance Williams 8-70
TE Jason Witten 5-60
PK Dan Bailey 3 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Cowboys defense took care of business in Philadelphia and has generally been better than last year. Dallas will remain in contention for the division all season because the NFC East has declined so badly that the only thing that really matters is winning inter-divisional games. That won't happen again for a month and the second match-up with the Eagles won't happen until week 17. The week 11 bye offers the Cowboys a chance to heal up for the stretch run.

QUARTERBACKS: Tony Romo continues to throw at least one score in every game and he comes off his second highest yardage total when he passed for 317 yards and one score in Philadelphia. He also threw two interceptions for the first time this year. Romo's been no worse than solid but his worst efforts so far come in road games and that will play out this week. He's always good every week but his great games have yet to happen away from home.

RUNNING BACKS: DeMarco Murray remains out with a Grade 2 sprain of his MCL and the Cowboys intend to take it easy with their uber-fragile running back. In his place, Joseph Randle gained 65 yards on 16 runs and added three catches for 28 more yards in Philly. But Phillip Tanner came in for the one-yard touchdown run. Lance Dunbar may return from his hamstring strain this week but the committee approach will continue with Randle remaining the primary back for now. This is a muddled situation that won't improve.

The rushing totals for Dallas are almost always low and only when Murray faced the Rams did a Cowboys back offer more than marginal production.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Miles Austin was thrown seven passes over the last two games and he never caught any. He may be benched to let his hamstring heal more but he remains a nonfactor with no fantasy value. Terrance Williams now scored in each of the last three games and offers at least moderate yardage in every game. Dez Bryant is on a two game dry spell for touchdowns but ended with eight catches for 110 yards in Philly.

The interesting part of this group is the slowly increasing work load of Cole Beasley. He comes off a season best six catches for 53 yards and is starting to let Dallas use the slot again since Austin is not capable of producing. Beasley is another 5-8, 177 pound "Welker" type who is adding a new wrinkle to an already formidable passing offense.

TIGHT ENDS: Jason Witten was great in the Denver game (7-121, TD) but otherwise he's been very mediocre and not scored or topped 55 yards since the season opener. Witten is not even getting as many targets as he was earlier in the season. The emergence of Beasley could at least have a minor impact to Witten who used to be all alone over the middle.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Lions defense allowed both the Bears and Bengals to throw for over 300 yards and multiple scores over the most recent home games. They have never allowed fewer than 17 points to any opponent and the rushing defense has already allowed eight touchdowns to running backs. This is a better front line defense than most teams and no runner yet topped 100 yards though several have been close. Romo throws less effectively in most road games but this one could be a shootout given Dallas' secondary versus a healthy Calvin Johnson. All the elements of the passing game deserve serious consideration - Romo, Witten, Bryant and Williams. The Lions only allowed one passing score to a tight end and that just happened last Sunday. Williams and Bryant are the only two with a possible monster game in the making.

WHAT TO WATCH: Cole Beasley turned his last three games up significantly and scored versus the Broncos and then turning in around five catches for 50 yards in the previous two games. He's a dark horse to become fantasy relevant but he is in the race.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 10 22 3 11 16 3
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 18 20 27 15 29 3

 

1 MIN 34-24 10 @CHI -
2 @ARI 21-25 11 @PIT -
3 @WAS 27-20 12 TB -
4 CHI 40-32 13 GB -
5 @GB 9-22 14 @PHI -
6 @CLE 31-17 15 BAL -
7 CIN 24-27 16 NYG -
8 DAL - 17 @MIN -
9 BYE WEEK ----- ----- -----
News | Stats | Roster
DET vs DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford 380,3
RB Joique Bell 30 3-30
RB Reggie Bush 50 5-60,1
WR Calvin Johnson 8-120,1
WR Golden Tate 5-70
TE Joseph Fauria 1-10,1
TE Brandon Pettigrew 5-60
PK Matt Prater 3 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: The Lions dropped their home game to the Bengals even with a healthier Calvin Johnson back in the fold but they remain in the thick of the NFC North race with wins over the Vikings and Bears. With only a bye waiting after this week, picking up a NFC win is important and sets the tone for what should be a tougher slate in the second half of the season. The offense hasn't changed much over the season but so far have avoided any significant injuries like many other teams have incurred.

QUARTERBACKS: Like a few other quarterbacks, Matt Stafford was seemingly becoming mediocre with only eight scores over the first five weeks but after posting four touchdowns in Cleveland, he came back home and dropped three more onto the Bengals along with 357 passing yards. Better yet, Stafford only threw one interception over the last three weeks. He's more than ready for a shootout to happen.

RUNNING BACKS: The combined backfield is top five in the NFL but that is split out between Reggie Bush and Joique Bell so that only in the softest match-ups will they turn in a truly big game. Bush has only topped 90 rush yard once all year but is normally around 100 yards or more when his four or five catches are included every week. Joique Bell is a definite #2 in this scheme but provides at least marginal production every week and can step in should Bush go down injured again. Bell is playing with sore ribs currently which has given him slightly fewer touches.

WIDE RECEIVERS: After missing week five because of a bad knee, Calvin Johnson returned to be a decoy in Cleveland. But that only lasted one week since he posted nine catches for 155 yards and two scores on the visiting Bengals as the most productive NFL wideout for week seven. Kris Durham is still a factor in the passing scheme though he's scored just once and usually posts around 50 yards. That's much better and more consistent than any other wideout here. The offense is inescapably about Calvin Johnson though Reggie Bush has added a new element to concern defenses.

TIGHT ENDS: The Lions released Tony Scheffler this week which was made possible by the improving play of Joseph Fauria. He made a fantasy splash when he scored three times in week six but then rewarded waiver wire hounds with just one catch for 15 yards last Sunday. Brandon Pettigrew remains the receiving tight end and even scored once last week for the first time all year. At best Fauria just ruins what Pettigrew could be.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: What's not to like about a defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks and the Cowboys are the visitors no less. This will be the Cowboys second straight road game and they're still glowing from the win in Philly. Stafford is back in the saddle these last two weeks and now gets his best matchup of the year. Strong plays for Stafford, Johnson and Bush. Desperation plays for Durham and Pettigrew who at least have more upside this week.

WHAT TO WATCH: Stafford needs to blow up here and have another big game. That sends out the signal that the Lions are contenders this year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 5 4 14 9 15 17
Preventing Fantasy Points DAL 32 19 20 29 15 4

WEEK 8 CAR at TB (THU) DAL at DET NYJ at CIN SEA at STL (MON)
ATL at ARI GB at MIN PIT at OAK On Bye:
BUF at NO MIA at NE SF at JAC BAL, CHI, HOU
*UPDATED CLE at KC NYG at PHI WAS at DEN IND, SD, TEN


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