To get ready for Sunday's game, I exchanged five questions with Dave Halprin of Blogging The Boys, SB Nation's Dallas Cowboys blog. My answers to his questions can be found here, and his answers to my questions are below.
1. The Cowboys have dealt with quite a few injuries this season, especially on offense. Are any players not expected to play on Sunday because of injuries?
It's almost certain that WR Miles Austin, DE Jason Hatcher, CB Orlando Scandrick and LG Derrick Dockery will not play this weekend. Obviously the Austin one hurts the most, given that Dez Bryant's status is also uncertain and he barely looked game fit on Monday night. Bryant didn't practice on Thursday. Starting fullback Tony Fiammetta didn't practice on Thursday, making his status uncertain. He provided some much-needed blocking for Dallas on Monday night.
Tony Romo will play and it looks like Felix Jones will go, too. Cornerbacks Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman have been banged up but should play.
2. How big of an impact has Rob Ryan made on the Cowboys since being named the defense coordinator?
I get some variation of this question weekly, and the answer is it has been a huge difference. He's got the Cowboys attacking and confusing offenses, and he's getting results. The Cowboys are among the leaders in most categories on defense involving QB pressure and defending the run. The pass rush is much more than just DeMarcus Ware, and Sean Lee is becoming a star at middle linebacker. Ryan has them moving pre-snap, lining up at different spots, and overloading one side of the line for blitzes.
Beyond scheme, players love to play for him. I interviewed Jay Ratliff last week and asked him about Ryan, and he says he loves playing for the guy, his personality gets players into it, and they want to perform well for him. That's a comment you hear from a lot of guys who have played for Ryan.
3. What do Cowboys fans think about Tony Romo as a quarterback? It seems like he is someone who can make plays and win games, but at the same time, it also seems like he can lose games with a bonehead mistake. Do Cowboys fans think he can lead them to a Super Bowl?
What Dallas fans think about Tony Romo runs the gamut. I've heard so many different opinions that you can't keep track. So I'll only go with what I think personally. I know Romo has the talent to take Dallas to a Super Bowl, but will he ever do it? Who knows, so many things play into a team going to a Super Bowl. Ultimately though, that's what he will be judged on.
I think many fans outside of Dallas have the perception that Romo is constantly losing games through bonehead moves, but that's not really the case. He's won a lot more than he's lost and he's led a lot of fourth quarter comebacks. His stats are very productive. The problem is he will get loose with the football every once in a while, and when he blows up he seems to do it in dramatic fashion so people remember it. Romo has the ability to win really big; we'll just have to wait and see if he does it.
4. Despite kicker Dan Bailey's outstanding game on Monday night, Jerry Jones has said he has no plans to get rid of David Buehler, the Cowboys' kickoff specialist. How do Cowboys fans feel about carrying two kickers?
I'll be brief here. I hate it. Hate it. The minute Dan Bailey proved he could make the FGs, I was ready to cut David Buehler.
5. What is the feeling in Dallas about Sunday's game? Do Cowboys fans view this as the game that ends the Lions' winning streak, or is there concern that the Lions will win their fourth straight to start the year?
With this Cowboys team, we aren't sure of anything, down to who will be playing from week to week. With all the injuries, the winning of games we thought were lost, and the losing of a game we thought was won, there's no predicting the Cowboys yet. I think they can win, and I'll go into the game optimistic that they'll win, but losing to the much-improved Lions wouldn't shock me in the least. Detroit looks like a formidable opponent this year. The Cowboys aren't good enough to be cocky, and they aren't bad enough to be overlooked. It should be a very competitive game.