FOX Sports Detroit: Take the Lions and the points
By Mike O'Hara
Lions-Cowboys Breakdown: Spread The Lions are the NFL's closest team to perfection. You can bet on it.
In fact, you should have.
Their 2-7 won-lost record trumps everything. It overshadows how high they rank in various statistical categories and their plus-13 points differential.
Covering the point spread is another matter. Going into Sunday's road game against the Cowboys, their record against the spread is either 7-2 or 8-1.
The discrepancy is a result of a fluctuating spread for last week's game at Buffalo. The Bills were favored by 3 for most of the week, but by only 1 1/2 on game day. In the 14-12 loss, the Lions got inside 3 points but lost at 1 1/2.
The 8-1 record is the best in the league. At 7-2, they're tied with the Rams for No. 1.
I like the Lions to cover 6 1/2 points against the Cowboys, and not only because of their record against the line -- or because the Cowboys are one of the worst. The Cowboys' 2-7 record against the spread matches their overall record.
The Lions do enough good things to overcome penalties and dropped passes to keep games close. They have one loss by 5 points, two by 3 points and two by 2.
A truism of pro football is that the tape never lies. When coach Jim Schwartz and his staff grade the players every week, improvement is obvious in the nitty-gritty details of performance.
"Significantly there," Schwartz said Thursday when asked about improving grades. "Our objective isn't to grade out well. Our objective is to win the game, and we haven't done a good enough job of doing that."
In this week's FOX Sports Detroit Breakdown, the Lions and the over-hyped, under-performing Cowboys are closer than the spread indicates. Close enough, that a Lions victory would not be shocking.
From the Book of Mike: Chapter 10, Verse 1: "All men are created equal. The trick is to overcome it."
The Lions have overcome inequities all season -- with a little help from the point spread. Cast thy bread with the spread.
This week's Breakdown:
Site/kickoff: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Tex., 1 p.m. (EST).
Records: Lions 2-7, Cowboys 2-7.
History: Cowboys have 11-9 series lead and won last meeting, 28-27 at Ford Field on Dec. 27, 2007. The Lions won the last road game vs. Cowboys, 39-31, in the last game of 2006 at Texas Stadium.
Passing -- Shaun Hill 156-258 (60.5 pct.), 1,632 yds., 10 TD, 8 Int., 78.8 rating.
Rushing -- Jahvid Best 126-380, 3.1 ave., 4 TD; Kevin Smith (injured), 34-133, 3.9 ave.; Jerome Felton 10-36, 3.6 ave.
Receiving -- Calvin Johnson 49-679, 13.9 ave., 9 TD; Best 45-360, 8.0 ave., 1 TD; Brandon Pettigrew 42-412, 9.8 ave., 3 TD; Tony Scheffler 31-273, 8.8 ave., 1 TD; Nate Burleson 30-336, 11.2 TD, 3 TD.
Sacks -- Ndamukong Suh 6.5; Kyle Vanden Bosch 4, Louis Delmas 2, Lawrence Jackson 2, Turk McBride 2.
Int. -- Alphonso Smith 5.
Punting -- Nick Harris 44.7 gross, 37.5 net, 3 touchbacks, 12 inside 20.