Detroit Lions vs. Dallas Cowboys: Preview by the Numbers


Oct 20, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) catches a pass for a touchdown while being defended by Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (27) during the third quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions fans have something to feel good about this week, despite a disappointing 27-24 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

After missing one game — and being a non-factor in another — due to injury, Calvin Johnson looks to be back to posting video game numbers, with a dominant performance last week. Better yet,  Dez Bryant has decided to instigate another such performance from him. We here at SLR have already described our thoughts on this.

I remember the last time someone in Dallas said they had better receivers than Calvin Johnson, it didn’t work out especially well for them. So look forward to that this Sunday.

Detroit Lions’ NFL Rankings

New feature on the chart this week: A team logo indicates which team is projected to “win the matchup” based on NFL rankings. Also, penalty rankings are based on the number of penalties taken, not the yardage changed. That’s why the teams are considered tied, despite the C0wboys’ tallying less penalty yardage.

All stats according to

The Lions’ defense continues to careen towards the bottom of the NFL, having given up a career day to oft-criticized Andy Dalton and his security blanket A.J. Green. They now give up more offensive yards per game than any team not coached by Chip Kelly.

That is a concern, and yet passing defense and scoring defense still fall in the middle third of the league, an indication of their strong third-down defense, which sits in second beneath the dominant Chiefs for the third consecutive week.

The Lions’ offense has sort of leveled off, and it’s probably reasonable to expect them to sit in the top 5-10 in scoring, passing and total yardage for the rest of the season. The rushing attack is improved, but certainly not dominant.

What does deserve particular attention, however, is the Lions’ greatly improved offensive third-down efficiency. In their last two games, the Lions are 63.6 percent (21-for-33) on third down conversions, bringing their ranking up 20 spots in that time frame.

With both team’s offenses holding a clear advantage over their respective defenses, this game has all the makings of a classic shootout, despite Dallas missing a number of key pieces. If the Lions can hold serve on third downs on both sides of the ball, it will go a long way towards making sure they come out of top.

Lions Fantasy Corner

Oct 20, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) celebrates with wide receiver Ryan Broyles (84) after catching a pass for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Pleasant Surprise

I’m not sure if it counts as a surprise that Calvin Johnson played well, but given the disappointment of his last two weeks, I imagine few were expecting such a breakout performance. Week 7 was easily Johnson’s best Fantasy performance of the season, and it came at a time when some were probably skittish about starting him.

Bitter Disappointment

Rookie tight end Joseph Fauria followed up his three-touchdown performance against the Browns with one catch for 15 yards against the Bengals. That kind of inconsistency is the least you can expect from an undrafted rookie whose role has exploded over the first half of the season. The good news for Fauria is that Tony Scheffler’s release means the Lions have fully bought into Fauria’s presence in the offense.

Sleeper Pick

Kevin Ogletree wasn’t looked to very often against Cincinnati, but he pulled down two passes for 25 yards each.He continues to look like a player who could (and is starting to) grow into a much bigger part of the Lions’ offense in time. Kris Durham is also looking more reliable with every passing week.

Random Numbers

155 — receiving yards for both Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green last weekend

1 — rushing touchdowns for Reggie Bush this season

21.9 — kickoff return average for Michael Spurlock in 2013

21.3 — kickoff return average for Stefan Logan in 2012

50 — receiving yards for Kevin Ogletree vs. Bengals

70 — receiving yards for Ogletree in four games (including one start) with the Tampa Bay Bucs this season

3 — official sacks for rookie DE Ziggy Ansah

3 — sacks by Ansah wiped out by defensive penalties (including two strip-sacks)… though two of those penalties were offsides on Ansah himself

10 — interceptions by the Lions defense in 2013

11 — interceptions by the Lions defense in 2012

82 — career rushing yards for Cowboys leading available rusher, Joseph Randle (if the injured DeMarco Murray cannot play)

43.75 — percentage of teams in the NFL sporting records currently within a half-game of .500