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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
November 16, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
DET at DAL NO at NE Sun 4 PM PIT at BAL* MIN at GB*
IND at CIN OAK at WAS SEA at SF* Updated* Times ET

Prediction: Detroit 10, Dallas 23

Here is the precursor to the Thanksgiving Day games that each always host. The Lions come off a nice win over the Cardinals that had Harrington throwing like he was always supposed to throw. The Cowboys are on a short week after spending Monday night depressing the entire city of Philadelphia and at 6-3, Dallas is tied with the Giants for the NFC East lead with the first tiebreaker thanks to the previous win against Eli and company. Dallas may be tired this week, they may be emotionally drained, but they are also playing a team that is 1-3 on the road this year.

The Cowboys beat the Lions 31-21 in 2004.

Detroit Lions (4-5)
1 17-3 GBP 10 29-21 ARI
2 6-38 @CHI 11 Nov 20 @DAL
3 Open Bye 12 Nov 24 ATL
4 13-17 @TBB 13 Dec 4 MIN
5 35-17 BAL 14 Dec 11 @GBP
6 20-21 CAR 15 Dec 18 CIN
7 13-10 @CLE 16 Dec 24 @NOR
8 13-19 CHI 17 Jan 1 @PIT
9 14-27 @MIN . THU SAT
DET at DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Joey Harrington 0 0 200,1
RB Kevin Jones 40 10 0
RB Artose Pinner 20 0 0
RB Shawn Bryson 20 20 0
TE Marcus Pollard 0 30,1 0
WR Roy Williams 0 60 0
WR Charles Rogers 0 20 0
WR Scottie Vines 0 50 0
PK Jason Hanson 1 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Lions are 4-5 and only two games behind the Bears but it could be six games back for all that matters. With upcoming games against DAL, ATL, CIN and PIT, the Lions can only rely on the remaining games against the Vikes and Packers to offer decent chances of a win. The offense looked very good last week but against the Cardinals - it was supposed to look good.

Quarterback: Joey Harrington has looked reborn in the last two starts, throwing for about 240 yards and scoring up to three touchdowns in each game. He's shown accuracy and good decision making skills and been effective and efficient. He has also gone against MIN and ARZ, two of the worst secondaries in the NFL. Not so this week.

Harrington threw for 255 yards and two scores against the Cowboys in 2004.

Running Backs: Kevin Jones has been a major disappointment this season and has yet to exceed 87 rushing yards in a game. The good news is that Jones ran very well last week and gained 81 yards on only 14 carries for a 5.8 yard average. The bad news is that Mariucci decided that the Lions needed to start using a rotation and included Shawn Bryson (7-44) and Artose Pinner (7-19). Jones could have easily notched his first 100 yard game had the Lions not decided to give half the carries to other runners.

Kevin Jones only gained 36 rushing yards against Dallas last year.

Wide Receivers: Apparently it is safe to start Roy Williams again on your fantasy team. He had missed the previous four games with an injured left quadriceps including being a game time scratch in week nine, but his first game back produced seven catches for 117 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday. The Cardinals simply could not cover him near the endzone. Charles Rogers (1-4) made it back to the field finally with almost no results and Scott Vines returned to obscurity with only two catches for 17 yards. Mike Williams missed the game with a sprained foot and since he was unable to practice at all last week, I am assuming he misses this week's game as well.

Tight Ends: Marcus Pollard had five receptions for 47 yards last week and that makes three consecutive games over 35 yards. he only has two scores on the year but remains an option in the passing game.

Match Against the Defense: The Cowboys have given up the run in a couple of games this year but never at home where no opposing runner has scored and Tiki Barber had the high game with only 64 rushing yards. Since the Lions now have a rotation at running back for no apparent reason, figure Jones for a mediocre showing here.

Harrington has looked great in the last two games but that should end this week in Dallas. The Cowboys secondary has only allowed three scores in the four home games and it would be half of that much if they remembered to cover Santana Moss back in week two. Look for one passing score at most that favors either Williams or Pollard. The Cowboys have only allowed one wideout to score against them since week three.

Dallas Cowboys (6-3)
1 28-24 @SDC 10 21-20 @PHI
2 13-14 WAS 11 Nov 20 DET
3 34-31 @SFO 12 Nov 24 DEN
4 13-19 @OAK 13 Dec 4 @NYG
5 33-10 PHI 14 Dec 11 KCC
6 16-13 NYG 15 Dec 18 @WAS
7 10-13 @SEA 16 Dec 24 @CAR
8 34-13 ARI 17 Jan 1 STL
9 Open Bye M THU SAT
DAL vs DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Bledsoe 0 0 260,2
RB Julius Jones 40 0 0
RB Marion Barber 50 10 0
TE Jason Witten 0 70,1 0
WR Keyshawn Johnson 0 60 0
WR Terry Glenn 0 80,1 0
WR Peerless Price 0 20 0
PK Shaun Suisham 3 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Cowboys have a knack for getting into close games but finally pulled one out in their own favor with the Roy Williams return of an interception for a game-winning touchdown last Monday in Philadelphia. That was a huge game for the division and one that the Cowboys more stole than won. Dallas keeps getting locked into close match-ups except when at home where they've enjoyed two big games against the Eagles and Cardinals. No doubt the short week won't help, but going against the Lions will.

Quarterback: Drew Bledsoe continues his streak of scoring at least once in every game this year but he comes off one of his lowest outputs yet with only 196 yards against the Eagles. Virtually all of his biggest yardage efforts have been when the Cowboys were at home and this week should be no different. He usually only has one score each week but twice has throw for three. In the four homestands this year, he has only one in three of them - the running game has been enough in those contests.

Running Backs: Bill Parcells went to a rotational scheme with the running backs last week, starting Marion Barber (13-46, 1 TD) and working in Julius Jones (8-16) who had missed the last three games with an ankle sprain. Jones was not particularly sharp against the Eagles and Barber ran better, but the expectation is that Jones is being worked back into the mix and that he remains on the top of the depth chart. Until Jones turns in a big game, the rotation is likely to continue. When the game was on the line on Monday, Barber was the running back.

Wide Receivers: Keyshawn Johnson was the primary receiver against the Eagles and had five catches for 56 yards. He remains the possession receiver in the scheme though he had scored in the two games previous to last week. Terry Glenn had not scored since week five but finally managed to snare a touchdown when he had two catches for 31 yards. Since week five, he has been alternating games of 60 and then 30 yards every week.

Keyshawn Johnson had 80 yards and two scores against Detroit last year while Glenn was injured that week.

Tight Ends: Jason Witten comes off his worst game since week two when he only had three catches for 27 yards against the Eagles. What's notable here is that both his scores and his three best games all came when at home. Witten has been less used on the road this year but remains a solid part of the passing game when the Cowboys are at home.

Witten had nine catches for 84 yards and one score against the Lions in 2004.

Match Against the Defense: The Cowboys are using a rotation now at least until Jones shows he is completely back to form so that likely waters down what either he or Barber will do this week. The Lions rush defense has only allowed three runners to score touchdowns and two of them were quirks - Arrington and Fason. Otherwise, the opponents have had to settle for scoring through the air in every game except against the Bears who just won't throw. Look for moderate efforts here that has to favor Barber since he is running better than Jones so far.

Bledsoe goes against a secondary that can be beaten and that has given up two scores in half of their games. The Lions have been giving up long scores to the primary wideout of opponents so Glenn has another chance of scoring here as does Witten who has already been effective against the Lions last year.