Lions, Steelers among those that face big test on road

  • By
More Columns >

A year ago, the Detroit Lions left Dallas in Week 11 with their NFL-record 26th straight loss on the road. They haven't lost away from home since, winning four straight road games -- the first time they've accomplished that feat in 50 years.

They're back in Dallas again on Sunday and have a chance to do something they've never done in franchise history -- win five consecutive road games. They're one of four teams in good position to get a difficult road win based on matchups, injuries, history and other circumstances.

Detroit at Dallas (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Venue: Cowboys Stadium

Last time at site: Jon Kitna threw three touchdown passes and interim coach Jason Garrett improved to 2-0 as the Cowboys beat the Lions, 35-19, for Detroit's 26th consecutive road loss, in Week 11 of the 2010 season.

Reason for road optimism: Lost in this week's Romo-mania was the fact that the Cowboys failed to score a touchdown Monday night. Romo and center Phil Costa need to solve their snap problems against a Lions defense that ranks third in points allowed at 15.3. This game could come down to which defender can wreak the most havoc on the opposing offense: Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who leads the NFL with five sacks, or second-year Lions menace Ndamukong Suh. If the Cowboys pay too much attention to Suh, watch out for fellow Nebraska Cornhusker Kyle Vanden Bosch, who's recorded a sack in every game this season. The Cowboys have played an NFL-record nine straight games decided by three points or fewer. They are 5-4 in those games, and after winning two straight nail-biters, a narrow defeat to one of the NFL's emerging powers seems like a reasonable prospect.

Carolina at Chicago (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Venue: Soldier Field

Last time at site: Jake Delhomme outdueled Rex Grossman, passing for three touchdowns and more than 300 yards, and the Panthers advanced to their third NFC Championship Game with a 29-21 victory in a divisional playoff game during the 2005 season.

Reason for road optimism: Beleaguered Bears quarterback Jay Cutler might finally catch a break against the Panthers, who don't offer much of a pass rush. But the Bears have problems on defense, too, where they are ranked 18th against the run and 26th against the pass. That means a frustrated Carolina running game (No. 1 back DeAngelo Williams has a mere 61 yards so far) could get just enough traction to allow Cam Newton to look downfield, where Steve Smith will be waiting to haul in a few more spirals. Smith is having his best season in years, with 349 yards after three games. And don't forget tight end Greg Olsen, who lines up against his former Bears teammates for the first time.

Pittsburgh at Houston (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Venue: Reliant Stadium

Last time at site: On their way to a Super Bowl championship, the Steelers won their 16th consecutive regular-season game in dominating fashion, 27-7, in Week 2 of the 2005 season.

Reason for road optimism: The Texans lost a shootout against the Saints last week, and now Matt Schaub and company face a different kind of test against Pittsburgh's "too old" defense, which ranks No. 1 in the NFL against the pass, allowing just 164 yards per game after three weeks. Arian Foster is likely to play for the Texans, but the Steelers are notoriously stingy against the run. The Texans' secondary, meanwhile, will be tested by speedy Mike Wallace, who's gone over 100 yards in all three games this season.

N.Y. Giants at Arizona (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

Venue: University of Phoenix Stadium

Last time at site: The Giants overcame 351 yards passing by Kurt Warner to snap Arizona's seven-game home winning streak, 37-29, in Week 12 of the 2008 season.

Reason for road optimism: Eli Manning and the Giants return to the site of their greatest triumph -- University of Phoenix Stadium, where Big Blue won Super Bowl XLII. New York seems to have gained (regained?) a swagger after last week's deconstruction of the Eagles. Ahmad Bradshaw is running well, with Brandon Jacobs getting just enough touches to stay interested. Manning has found a new weapon in receiver Victor Cruz, while Hakeem Nicks is due for more production after netting just 38 and 25 yards in his last two games. Quarterback Kevin Kolb is still finding his comfort zone for the Cardinals, but facing the Giants' pass rush will be anything but comfortable. Jason Pierre-Paul has been a beast, and with 4.5 sacks has already equaled his total for last season.




The previous element was an advertisement.

NFL Shop