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Game Scout: Cowboys-Lions

The SportsXchange

Dallas Cowboys (4-3) at Detroit Lions (4-3)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Ford Field, Detroit - TV: FOX

*TV announcers: Dick Stockton, Brian Billick, Laura Okmin

*Keys to the game: The Cowboys allowed 27.2 points per game through six games but nearly pitched a shutout at Philadelphia last week. Given the revolving door along the defensive line, inconsistency is expected for Monte Kiffin's group. The zone scheme makes double-coverage of WR Calvin Johnson simple, but the Cowboys need another money performance from MLB Sean Lee, who is playing at a Pro Bowl level and was essential in the game plan last week of taking away LeSean McCoy. RB Reggie Bush is the only player in the NFC with 400-plus yards rushing (426) and 300-plus yards receiving (305), and his explosiveness demands assignment-sure football. If Dallas gets out of position, Bush can exploit second-level tackling issues. If the Lions don't find a way to put pressure on Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, he will pick the secondary apart much like Andy Dalton did last week. It will be interesting to see if the Lions deploy more blitzes, something they didn't do much of against the Bengals. RB DeMarco Murray could return for Dallas, but the battle in the trenches -- notably veteran OG Brian Waters vs. Ndamukong Suh -- will determine the effectiveness of the rushing attack. Romo should find success working the ball outside the hashes to WR Dez Bryant.

*Matchup to watch - Cowboys CB Brandon Carr vs. Lions WR Calvin Johnson -- Carr has been outstanding the past two games when the Cowboys have placed him on the opponent's best receiver and asked him to cover him all over the field. He neutralized if not shut down Washington's Pierre Garcon and Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson. The speedy Jackson had just three catches for 21 yards last Sunday. If he does the same against Johnson, then Carr will be worth every bit of the five-year, $50.2 million contract he signed in 2012. Johnson is the best receiver in the league because of his unique size, speed and leaping ability. Johnson has been limited some this season by injuries, causing him to miss a game. But he showed last week against the Bengals that he is back to full strength with nine catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns. He has 33 catches for six TDs this season.

*Player spotlight - Cowboys TE Jason Witten: S Glover Quin, who typically draws coverage of tight ends, has been solid most of the season. But the Bengals' tight end tandem caught nine passes for 109 yards and a touchdown last week. Witten has been a Lions killer. In seven games against Detroit, he has amassed 42 catches for 441 yards and three touchdowns.

*Fast facts: Romo's career completion percentage against Detroit is 74.8, with 954 yards, seven TDs and a 102.2 rating in three starts. ... The Lions have a plus-5 turnover ratio in wins, but are even (zero) in three losses.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The teams exchanged comeback victories in the past two meetings, high-scoring games that came down to the final possession. Matt Stafford's strong second-half play this season puts the Lions in position to return the favor against a pliable defense.

*Our pick: Lions 33-28
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