I cannot believe I’m about to do this after the past two weeks. I projected the Lions to beat the Jets, and they blew a 10-point 4th-quarter lead and lost in overtime. I projected the Lions to handle the Bills, and they completely failed to show up. If the Lions are the Lions we saw all year up until last Sunday, they’re a better team than the Cowboys and should win. If the Lions are the Lions we saw all decade, forget about it. Interestingly, though, I think the shoes from last week are on the other foot: the Cowboys are fresh off a fantastic performance, feeling their oats, thinking they're way better than the lowly Lions they're about to face--even though both teams have putrid records. After mailing it in last week, the Lions ought to be revved up to prove they are who we thought they were. All that aside, though, the numbers show these two teams to be very evenly matched, but with a definite offensive edge for the Lions.
Hesitatingly, gulpingly, and with an extreme chance of heartbreak, I declare that the most likely outcome of the game is a 27-24 Lions win. Heaven help me.
Heaven help DENIED.
Given no systemic advantage or disadvantage, Jason Garrett’s implementation of the Air Coryell offense should meet expectations against Gunther Cunningham’s aggressive 4-3, scoring 21-24 points, averaging 8.0-to-9.0 YpA, and 3.5 to 3.75 YpC. I have low confidence in this projection.
For the record, the Cowboys scored 28 offensive points—despite being held to just 6.13 YpA through the air. The Cowboys did rumble for 4.67 YpC, though.
Expectations would hold that the Lions score better than their season average against the Cowboys, and that the Cowboys allow slightly more than usual against the Lions. There, theoretically, is a mild scoring advantage for the Lions, but the defense did play markedly better in its first game under Pasqualoni—so I’ll call those two factors a wash. I project the Lions’ offense to match expectations against the Cowboys, scoring 25-to-30 points, averaging 6-to-7 YpA, and 3.75-to-4 YpC. I have medium-to-high confidence in this projection.
Well . . . the Lions netted 6.15 YpA, and exactly 3.75 YpC—so, I got that bit right. The offense was working as we’d expect on a per-play basis; it just didn’t translate into any more than 17 points. Again, at this point, I have nothing to say here. The Lions just didn’t execute on offense—and their insistence on playing Jahvid Best when he clearly has nothing in the tank isn’t helping. The defense—until the final two series—did its job, and the offense wasn’t that too bad either. It’s just the mistakes, the breakdowns, the penalties, the turnovers, and the incredibly unfortunate timing of all of the above that keeps the Lions making a fool of me in these posts.