Lions vs. Cowboys: Checking In On The Enemy

Ndamukong Suh

So what's going on with the Detroit Lions this week, and this year? We delve into the main story lines.

Despite not practicing this week, rookie running back Jahvid Best is expected to play. Best has a sprained toe that has been bothering him for a while but has manged to play with it. Defensive end Cliff Avril looks like he'll miss this game, and backup running back Kevin Smith will definitely miss it, he had surgery on his thumb.

People are noticing some similarities between these two teams. Obviously, they're both 2-7, so they have that in common. The fanbases' frustrations seem to be similar, too, as witnessed in a Detroit newspaper:

And there's no excusing all the penalties and mental mistakes — and, yes, some coaching blunders — that have cost the Lions a couple victories, including last week's stinker against the Bills. But really now, who's more upset about this season: the Lions' long-suffering supporters or the spoiled devotees of America's Team?

That first line could be copied and pasted into an article about the Cowboys up until last week. The second part about us being spoiled? Yeah, we're spoiled, so what?

As for the penalties being a problem, they certainly were in Dallas and it appears to be the same in Detroit. They even have a Cowboys connection.

A running joke amongst Lions fans this season has been the Stephen Peterman penalty watch, where we essentially wait for him to commit at least one penalty a game.

Given all their mistakes along the way, the Lions are a better football team than before, and some of their stats show it. They've only lost by double-digits once this year. And they've lost their other non-blowout games by an average of 3.8 points. In a real statistical oddity, they've actually outscored their opponents this year despite being 2-7.

One big success story out of Detroit this year has been the play of Ndamukong Suh. The rookie DT has met expectations that went along with his high draft position. He has 6.5 sacks on the year, although he hasn't had any in a few games. But he's still making plays, like last Sunday against the Bills.

Rushing from a standup middle linebacker position on the first play of the second quarter, Suh hit Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick so hard that defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham joked, "I thought it was over" for Fitzpatrick.

Got to get that guy blocked. He's working on his adjustments.

"I think they've picked up on things that I do well," Suh said. "Now it's just throwing a twist in there, because there's other things that I haven't pulled out that I'm definitely eager to pull out and see how they work against certain guys."

The Lions may have superfreak Calvin Johnson, who is one very large receiver, but they fear the Cowboys unit of big receivers.

Miles Austin and Dez Bryant are 6-feet-2. Roy Williams is 6-3. They each weigh about 215 pounds. Add to that tight end Jason Witten, 6-6 and 263 pounds and second on the team in receptions, and that's a formidable challenge for any secondary.

"That's like an army," Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said Thursday. "Those guys are all big, and they're fast. They all get up the field."

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