During the bye week, I looked at this match up and thought that this was a game that Detroit would lose. They are facing a hot Arizona team that is playing very efficient football. Their defense is playing very well and their offense was clicking. Add to that the game being played in Arizona, and I thought there was no way Detroit could win. Fast forward to Sunday when the Cardinals lost quarterback Carson Palmer to a season ending knee injury. Now, the Lions will face Drew Stanton, a player they know very well. While Stanton has not played poorly (he is 2-1 this season) he is not as efficient as Palmer was, which gives Detroit’s number one defense a chance to shut the Cardinals offense down just like they did against the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings.
- Detroit Lions Offensive Line vs. Arizona Cardinals Defensive Line – The Detroit Lions offensive line is progressively getting worse in terms of health. While they did fairly well against the Dolphins pass rush last week, They also lost Larry Warford and banged up LaAdrian Waddle pretty good. Whether or not Waddle plays remains a question mark even though he has practiced in full. Warford is being replaced by rookie Travis Swanson. Swanson is a decent player but he is no Larry Warford. Arizona’s defensive line is pretty solid but they have not gotten to the quarterback much this season. They have 14 sacks so far this season. I expect they will get at least one on Sunday, but this actually looks like a good match up for a struggling Detroit Lions offensive line. Edge None
- Detroit Lions Tight Ends vs. Arizona Cardinals Linebackers – The Cardinals linebackers are an above average group. They feature Kevin Minter, Sam Acho, Larry Foote, and rookie Alex Okafor. Detroit’s tight ends are finally getting healthy as they have all practiced this week. While that will be a huge help, I do not know if it will help enough to make an impact. Pettigrew has been a virtual non-factor in the passing game. Ebron is still recovering from his hamstring so he may not yet be full go. Fauria will be full go, but his speed is a limitation. I see the match up as a wash unless the Lions are in the red zone. If they find themselves in the red zone, I expect old school Fauria to come into play as Stafford trusts him down there. Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Wide Receivers vs. Arizona Cardinals Secondary – Detroit has one of the best receiver pairings in the NFL. Calvin Johnson is healthy and he showed it last week with over 100 yards receiving. Golden Tate has had a monster season so far and continued his dominance leading the team in receptions and targets. He also went over 100 yards receiving. All of that was against a very good Dolphins defense. Arizona’s secondary though is one of the best in terms of personnel. Antonio Cromartie and Patrick Peterson are excellent corners, actually, they are among the best in the NFL. Tyrann Mattheiu is playing great football so far. The Cardinals lead the NFL with 14 interceptions and that could be the Lions downfall. The statistics though show that Arizona is 30th in pass yards allowed per game which heavily favors Detroit. It is very difficult to call here as this is could be a strength and a weakness for Detroit. Based solely on passing yards allowed, I’ll give it to Detroit Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Running Backs vs. Arizona Cardinals Run Defense – The Cardinals have one of the best run defenses in the NFL. The Lions have one of the worst run offenses in the NFL. Also, Reggie Bush is likely out of this game. Easy one to call here as there is no chance for the Lions to be better here. Edge Cardinals
- Detroit Lions Quarterbacks vs. Arizona Cardinals Pass Defense – This match up is the hardest of all. The tight end and receiver battles went to Detroit due to their individual strengths. Stafford though has thrown quite a few interceptions this season and the Cardinals are takeaway machines. I expect at least one if not two picks here. Edge Cardinals
- Detroit Lions Defensive Line vs. Arizona Cardinals Offensive Line – Detroit’s defensive line is ruthless. They get constant pressure on the quarterback and stuff the run well. Arizona’s revamped offensive line has only allowed 16 sacks so far which is decent being 9 games in. Drew Stanton’s mobility will help them, but his inexperience will cause for more hesitation and pressure. He has played well this season so there is no reason to think that Detroit will rattle him too much. Still though, three sacks or more could alter the course of this game as Detroit’s defense is pretty stout. As an offense, its difficult to rebound after a negative play. It is even harder against a defense that does not allow many big plays. Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Linebackers vs. Arizona Cardinals Tight Ends – Without Stephen Tulloch, Tahir Whitehead has stepped up in a big way, filling the void at middle linebacker. I do have to wonder though if Tulloch being out has caused any subtle changes in DeAndre Levy‘s play. Levy has been great but he has not been at the level he was at last year. John Carlson has been the primary tight end for the Cardinals this year but he has taken a back seat to receivers Malcolm Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald, and John Brown. Levy can slow this unit down, but they will not be completely shut out. Edge None
- Detroit Lions Secondary vs. Arizona Cardinals Wide Receivers – The Cardinals have a very good receiving staff. Fitzgerald leads the team and Floyd and Brown complement him well. The Lions have the third best pass defense in the NFL though and while they are not big name players, the Detroit secondary has shut down high powered passing attacks from New Orleans, Atlanta, and Green Bay. I feel good about slowing this unit down, but John Brown is the wild card deep threat here. Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Run Defense vs. Arizona Cardinals Running Backs – Andre Ellington is a quality running back and is having an average season. He is facing the second best run defense in the NFL though and likely will only get his yards in the passing game where he has been equally effective. Since the Lions have shut down every rushing attack they have faced so far, Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Pass Defense vs. Arizona Cardinals Quarterbacks – Originally with Palmer at quarterback, this would be the biggest challenge. Palmer is efficient and able to create offense. Stanton is below 50% completion percentage with only 2 sacks on him. While he has not turned the ball over yet, he still appears too shaky to be considered a threat to the Lions defense. I see the pass defense dominating this match up. Edge Lions
- Jeremy Ross has been quiet all season. He’s a quality return man but he is not having any breakout returns. Ted Ginn Jr is a quality return man and poses a real threat to the Lions, who were exposed by Jarvis Landry last week. Prater has kicked well, and the fake punts by Jim Caldwell allowed the special teams unit to outperform Miami’s special teams units but this is a different game and a different team. Edge Cardinals
Lions 6 Cardinals 3
The game will be much closer than these numbers show. Detroit has a real chance to lose this game as this is a big test for them. They also have not won in Arizona since 1993 which will make this all the more difficult. They do get a best case scenario with Palmer out and Stanton starting. Still, this game will go down to the wire and I will pick Detroit to win, although a loss is very possible this week.
Detroit Lions 17 Arizona Cardinals 14