Five Keys to Victory
5 - Exploit Tight End Matchups
The Lions need to find a mismatch in pass coverage, and they have one with Mikhael Ricks/Casey Fitzsimmons vs. the Cowboys linebackers. Ricks will likely be covered by the slower and undersized Dexter Coakley. Alshermond Singleton is another undersized linebacker who struggles in coverage. Middle linebacker Dat Nguyen has never impressed me in man to man coverage, and also gives up a considerable amount of size to bigger tight ends. The Lions must exploit this matchup.
4 - Field Position
What's the fastest way to gain yardage? Field position. The signing of Reggie Swinton may surprise a few people, Swinton is good enough to break one for some big yards. He doesn't have great acceleration, but when he gets up to speed, he has the vision to find a lane and get in it quickly. Nick Harris is an average punter only because of his inconsistency. Nick has a strong enough leg to send them deep, but must do it consistently on Sunday. Because the Lions offense will likely not be able to move the ball well, getting good position will help out emensly.
3 - Contain Galloway, Glenn
I really like the matchup with Dre' Bly and Joey Galloway. Galloway doesn't have much of a size advantage over Bly, and Dre matches up pretty even with him athletically. The area where I think Bly could take advantage is in Joey's route running. Galloway has never impressed me with the way he runs patterns, and Bly has shown all year that he can jump on a route very quickly with his instincts. I see a stalemate there. Terry Glenn is still very athletic and talented, and may pose a problem for Otis Smith. It will take a team effort to slow down Glenn, but if they can at least contain him, then this offense is forced to rely on Antonio Bryant, who is very inconsistent.
2 - Shut Down The Power Run
The Cowboys rush offense is not that great, but it is one dimensional. Troy Hambrick is a power runner up the middle, and nothing else. The Cowboys interior line is questionable, with the exception of Larry Allen of course. Matt Lehr is a questionable stop-gap at center, and Andre Gurode has yet to settle in at guard, and is still young and growing. Shaun Rogers and Dan "Big Daddy" Wilkinson are two massive run cloggers and Earl Holmes is tough against the inside run. I see the Lions having the advantage here.
1 - Pass Rush!
Quincy Carter may be fast, but he is still young. Carter has been able to have his way in the passing game, because he isn't consistently pressured. If the Lions can bring some pressure, Quincy may make a poor decision that he is prone to making. So far, the Lions haven't been much of a pass rushing team, but have potential in Kalimba Edwards and Boss Bailey. On Sunday, a consistent pass rush will be the biggest key to victory.