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Sunday, October 27, 2013
Welcome to Ford Field

By Todd Archer

DETROIT -- Welcome to Ford Field where the Dallas Cowboys will look for their first three-game winning streak since late last season with a victory today against the Detroit Lions.

The Cowboys are looking for road wins in consecutive weeks for the first time since 2009 when they beat the New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins. A win would also give the Cowboys their first winning record at the midway point of the season since 2009.

Why does 2009 matter? It’s the last time the Cowboys made the playoffs.

Dez vs. Megatron: It sure made for a great headline this week even if they won’t see the field together, but Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson will go a long way in determining this game.

They both have six touchdowns on the season and they are their team’s big-play threats. Bryant is coming off an eight-catch, 110-yard game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Johnson had nine catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns against the Cincinnati Bengals last week.

A change in secondary: Undrafted rookie Jeff Heath will be making the first start of his career with fellow rookie, J.J. Wilcox, out with a knee injury. A year ago, Heath was playing at Saginaw Valley State in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Now he has to worry about Johnson.

The Cowboys like Heath’s athleticism and smarts, but he is making a big jump. The good news is they got his feet wet last week with a series in each half against the Eagles with the game still on the line. In the previous games he played only in mop-up duty.

“We’re getting real comfortable with him playing out there, so it is nice he’s able to step in and get his opportunity here,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said.

Take advantage of opportunities: The Lions are giving up 397 yards per game, which is 31st in the league, but they are much better where it counts: third down and red zone. Detroit is second in third-down efficiency and red-zone efficiency.

The Cowboys have only been OK on third down this season (30 of 80 conversions) but have been much better in the red zone, scoring touchdowns on 17 of 25 trips inside the opponent’s 20.

“They have an outstanding defensive line,” coach Jason Garrett said. “They’re explosive and disruptive up front. I think that factors into how well they’re playing in all those situations. That’s a huge part of the game, obviously, keeping drives alive and then cashing in at the end of drives. We’ve got to make sure we practice well this week and prepare for those situations and make sure we function well on Sunday.”