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Each Tuesday, WhatIfSports.com's NFL simulation engine will provide you with predictions, box scores and statistics for every NFL game that week. The NFL simulation engine generates detailed information including the home team's chances of winning (Home Win %), average score and comprehensive box score link. If you want to share your new found NFL knowledge with friends and family, make sure to check out our NFL Widgets on the WhatIf To Go page or click on the social networking share bar located at the top and bottom of the article.
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Game of the Week: Lions at Cowboys
Thanks to a revitalized and revamped defense, as well as the return of Mathew Stafford, the Lions have exploded out of the gate. After knocking off a tough Tampa Bay squad in Week 1 and demolishing a crumbling Kansas City team in Week 2, the Lions' sense of hubris may have gotten the better of them in the first half of their matchup with Minnesota, as the underdog Vikings took a 20-0 halftime lead. However, Detroit came storming back in the second half, highlighted by two touchdowns throws from Stafford to favorite target Calvin Johnson. Jason Hanson, who has been with the Lions through thick and (mostly) thin, put four field goals through the uprights, including a 32-yarder in overtime, to give Detroit the hard-earned W over their division foe.
Dallas knows a thing or two about hard-fought wins. After losing a heartbreaker in their season debut to the Jets, the Cowboys found themselves in an early 14-0 deficit in Week 2 against the 49ers. Worse, an injury to starter Tony Romo led to the nine worst words in sports vernacular: "Jon Kitna is beginning to throw on the sidelines." Yet just as Kitna Time tossed his requisite two interceptions, Romo valiantly returned, leading Dallas to 13 unanswered points, including a Dan Bailey 19-yard field goal in overtime, to escape San Francisco with the win. Things were no easier against rival Washington in Week 3, as Romo's struggles with bruised ribs were clearly evident. Alas, thanks to six field goals by Bailey, as well as a bend-but-not-break defensive strategy from coordinator Rob Ryan, the Cowboys eked-out an 18-16 victory.
For the Lions, a vaunted passing attack has masked the severe limitations of their running game. While he's hauled in 15 receptions for 182 yards and a score in the early-going, Jahvid Best has been unable to do much damage in the ground game, with a meager 2.9 average on 49 carries. If Detroit plans on concocting any postseason itinerary, this deficiency will need to be alleviated ASAP. Stafford has been impressive in spreading the pigskin around to Johnson, Best, Nate Burleson and Brandon Pettigrew, but without a dynamic offensive attack, the Lions will be unable to take the next step.
The Cowboys can relate to Detroit's concern. Felix Jones had a breakout game against the Redskins, but the lack of an adequate backup has translated into a measly 78 yards per game in the rushing attack, which ranks 27th in the league. With Romo not at 100 percent, Dallas will need to lean on their backfield for the next few weeks.
So who wins this clash of NFC conference upstarts? According to the WhatIfSports.com award-winning simulation engine, the Lions come out on top 52.3 percent of the time by an average margin of 20-19. Check below for the rest of this week's predictions:
Please note: The 49ers/Eagles, Colts/Buccaneers, Falcons/Seahawks, Saints/Jaguars, Patriots/Raiders, Broncos/Packers, Steelers/Texans, Dolphins/Chargers and Lions/Cowboys games were resimulated on 9/29 to account for injuries and roster updates.
NFL Week 4
|@ Green Bay Packers||78.9||27||Simulate Game|
|@ Chicago Bears||73.3||22||Simulate Game|
|@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers||72.1||24||Simulate Game|
|@ San Diego Chargers||63.9||25||Simulate Game|
|San Francisco 49ers||41.1||18||Boxscore|
|@ Philadelphia Eagles||58.9||22||Simulate Game|
|@ St. Louis Rams||49.2||21||Simulate Game|
|@ Dallas Cowboys||48.3||18||Simulate Game|
|New York Jets||55.1||21||Boxscore|
|@ Baltimore Ravens||44.9||20||Simulate Game|
|@ Cleveland Browns||42.6||19||Simulate Game|
|New York Giants||58.8||25||Boxscore|
|@ Arizona Cardinals||41.2||22||Simulate Game|
|@ Kansas City Chiefs||37.5||18||Simulate Game|
|New England Patriots||62.9||24||Boxscore|
|@ Oakland Raiders||37.1||20||Simulate Game|
|@ Houston Texans||34.7||19||Simulate Game|
|@ Seattle Seahawks||25.9||18||Simulate Game|
|@ Cincinnati Bengals||25.3||14||Simulate Game|
|New Orleans Saints||84.5||28||Boxscore|
|@ Jacksonville Jaguars||15.5||14||Simulate Game|
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