Lions - Cowboys Preview & Prediction

Cowboys QB Tony Romo has already broken the single-season franchise record with 33 TD passes. Meanwhile Kitna has been sacked an NFL-high 47 times.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/09/07
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: FOX, Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver
SERIES: 22nd meeting. The Cowboys lead the series, 11-10, and have won three of the last four meetings. The Lions beat the Cowboys 39-31 in Dallas last season.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Cowboys should have their way with the reeling Lions defense. Detroit was stampeded for 216 rushing yards by Minnesota last Sunday, while its pass defense ranks 31st in the NFL. The Lions can be difficult to run against when DTs Shaun Rogers and Corey Redding have big games inside, but look for Dallas to come out running early in an effort to break whatever will Detroit has left. ... Lions QB Jon Kitna knows the Cowboys will be charging hard after comments he made to a Seattle radio station following Detroit's win over Dallas to end last season were played up big during the week. Without WR Roy Williams and with a line that stands little chance of holding up to the Cowboys' pass rush, the Lions must commit to RB Kevin Jones out of the gate or risk seeing Kitna take yet another beating.

KEY INJURIES: Cowboys: RT Marc Colombo (ankle sprain) looks like a game-time decision; CB Anthony Henry (ankle sprain) continues to work primarily out of the nickel position. Lions: Williams (knee) is expected to miss at least a few games; CB Fernando Bryant (ankle) is playing limited snaps.

FAST FACTS: Cowboys QB Tony Romo has already broken the single-season franchise record with 33 TD passes. ... Kitna has been sacked an NFL-high 47 times.

COWBOYS PERSONNEL NEWS: --OT Marc Colombo practiced on Thursday after missing Wednesday with a sprained ankle. Coach Wade Phillips said he is encouraged that Colombo will be ready to go against the Lions.

--LB Anthony Spencer is getting more snaps the last few weeks after being almost the forgotten man immediately following Greg Ellis' return from a torn Achilles tendon. Spencer is being used on passing downs in a sub package called the Cowboy defense, where he is on the field with Ellis and linebacker DeMarcus Ware. Spencer lines up on the right side while Ellis and Ware lineup next to each other on the left as the Cowboys get their three best rushers on the field to create mismatches and confuse defenses.

--WR Terrell Owens said the reason he is not dropping passes this year as opposed to 2006, when he had a league high 17 drops, is he is healthy again. He suffered a fractured hand and a torn tendon in his right index finger last year which contributed to his drops. "I just tried to go out there and fight through it," Owens said.

--CB Nate Jones has proven to be one of the team's best blitzers despite his small stature at 5-feet-10, 183 pounds. He has one sack and five quarterback pressures. He has more sacks than safety Roy Williams and more pressures than ends Marcus Spears, Chris Canty.

--LB Greg Ellis has a career high 10.5 sacks in nine games this year, including eight sacks in the past six games. But in looking deeper at his numbers Ellis has been a sack machine since moving to linebacker last season. The results are 15 sacks in 18 games since 2006 -- not including the 10 games he missed at the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007 because of the torn Achilles' tendon. And consider how his presence impacts the Cowboys defense. In the 18 games he has been in uniform, the Cowboys have allowed an average of 197 passing yards and 85 rushing yards with 46 total sacks. In the 10 other games, the Cowboys allowed an average of 250 passing yards and 118 rushing yards with 20 total sacks.

LIONS PERSONNEL NEWS: --DE Ikaika Alama-Francis practiced fully Thursday for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury, but he is still unlikely to be active for Sunday's game against Dallas.

--CB Fernando Bryant has been playing with an ankle injury and cannot handle a full load of snaps during a game. He rotates with Keith Smith.

--S Greg Blue might make his Lions debut Sunday with LaMarcus Hicks on injured reserve.

--WR Shaun McDonald should see a lot of action Sunday. He already is a favorite target of offensive coordinator Mike Martz, and now he is playing the "X" with Roy Williams out with a knee injury.

--DE Kalimba Edwards not only lost the starting right end job, but his playing time has been cut dramatically.

INSIDE THE COWBOYS CAMPS: The NFL has given Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman a stern warning about his supposed desire for pay back against Lions quarterback Jon Kitna.

NFL executive vice president Ray Anderson sent a letter to Newman saying the league will be monitoring his activities in Sunday's game.

"Be advised that your comments will now compel us to carefully monitor your activities in this weekend's Cowboys-Lions game," read part of the letter. "As you know, flagrant fouls may subject a player not only to fines, but to suspension as well. So conduct yourself accordingly."

Newman refused to comment but he also received a talking to from Cowboys coach Wade Phillips.

Newman was upset by comments Kitna made last season following a 39-31 victory by the Lions. Kitna called out Newman and linebacker Bradie James.

"We definitely felt like Terence Newman was the best corner that they had, so we knew we needed to be careful with him," Kitna said to a Seattle radio station. "But even with him, I mean, he's not (Seattle cornerback) Marcus Trufant, in my opinion. He doesn't have that kind of ability. It wasn't like you were scared to throw at him, I guess."

Newman responded angrily in an interview on Sirius Satellite.

"Basically what it boils down to is you've got to watch what you say. Your mouth can't write checks that your (expletive) can't cash. That's what it comes down to," Newman said. "Everybody's going to see those quotes. He better just hope I don't blitz off the edge, because I've got 15, 25, 30 (thousand dollars), however much it would be for a fine. I've got that much for one fine. Revenge will be sweet definitely."

Anderson said Newman's comments were thoughtless and irresponsible and not what the league's stands for.

INSIDE THE LIONS CAMP: Lions quarterback Jon Kitna has made comments that have riled up both the Dallas and Detroit locker rooms this week, with the teams meeting Sunday at Ford Field.

After the Lions beat the Cowboys in their season finale last season, Kitna went on a Seattle radio station. Kitna criticized the Cowboys -- a couple of them individually -- and they didn't like it.

Cornerback Terence Newman, who Kitna said wasn't as good as Seattle cornerback Marcus Trufant, lashed back this week on Sirius NFL Radio.

"Basically, what it boils down to is, you've got to watch what you say," Newman told Sirius NFL Radio. "Your mouth can't write checks that your (butt) can't cash. That's what it comes down to. Everybody's going to see those quotes. He better just hope I don't blitz off the edge because I've got 15, 25, 30 -- however much it would be for a fine. I've got that much for one fine. Revenge will be sweet, definitely."

That's not all.

"I thought about it a little bit after he said it, and then I let it go," Newman said. "Then I see Detroit was on the schedule again, and I was like, 'You know what? We go to Detroit. Kitna said all these things. We've got a chance to kind of put our foot in his butt.' We've got to go out and do it, though. We can't talk about it. We've got to be about it."

The NFL warned Newman that he would be watched carefully Sunday.

Kitna said his comments were lighthearted and seemed more serious when they were printed (and, apparently, posted on a bulletin board).

"It was really nothing that was a personal thing," Kitna said. "It was just, we were trying to have fun on the radio station back there, and unfortunately it has been used in a way like that I was trying to degrade players. And that's really not what it was about."

Kitna isn't worried about reprisals. "Are they going to want to hit me harder?" Kitna said. "I doubt it. I mean, this is the NFL, and they're good football players. Obviously they don't need any extra motivation. They're 11-1."

Told Newman was willing to take a fine to hit him, Kitna said: "That's all right. I'll take the 15 yards."

After the Lions' loss Sunday at Minnesota, Kitna said all his teammates weren't rowing in the same direction. Some of his teammates didn't seem too happy about it, but he didn't back down.

"Again," Kitna said, "we have to get back into the attitude that we had at the beginning of the season, where we felt like we were just a swarm of bees, a swarm of bees just kind of ..."

Kitna made a whooshing sound.

".. All moving together and ready to attack the same thing. And that's what we have to get back to.

"What's happened to us the last four weeks, it's a natural thing, and you have to fight that. The natural thing is to start trying protect your own reputation and things like that and not necessarily be as sacrificial. We can't allow that to creep in. We have to all be heading in the same direction. That's the only chance we have."

Has it already crept in? Do you have to get rid of it now?

"That goes back to the leadership type of thing," Kitna said. "Sometimes you just have to have the leaders step up and do something that grabs everybody's attention. Again, it's not anything that's said. It's not having a players-only meeting. It's about producing on the football field, in my opinion."

PREDICTION: Cowboys 37-23

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