Detroit Lions vs. Arizona Cardinals Opponent Preview


In what should be billed as “the game of the week”, the Detroit Lions (7-2) head to the desert to face the red hot, Arizona Cardinals (8-1). Up for grabs? How about NFC supremacy?

Sunday, November 16, 2014 – 4:25 pm ET
Avg. Yds (Rk)CategoryAvg. Yds (Rk)
262.3 (9th)Pass Off.247.3 (13th)
77.8 (30th)Rush Off.83.6 (28th)
212.1 (3rd)Pass Def.274.2 (29th)
71.3 (2nd)Rush Def.78.6 (3rd)
University of Phoenix Stadium
Glendale, AZ
Passing clouds. Mild. 67 °F, Wind: 13.48 mph/NE

The Cardinals come into Sundays match-up toting the best record in the NFC. The Lions are currently tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for the second best record. The winner on Sunday will be the No. 1 seed, for the time being anyway.

Cardinal Credentials

While Arizona comes into Sundays showdown with the best record in the NFC and home field advantage they will also be without starting quarterback, Carson Palmer. Last week the Cardinals signed Palmer, 34, to a three-year contract extension. This week, Palmer is officially done for the remainder of 2014 with a torn ACL.

Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Stanton will get the start for the Bruce Arians lead squad this week against his former team, the Detroit Lions. Stanton is also an Okemos, Michigan native and a former Michigan State Spartan so there may be a little more incentive involved. He was drafted by Detroit in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft and spent four years as a back-up before eventually moving on to the New York Jets and then the Indianapolis Colts. It was there that he initially met Arians.

The Cardinals were unbeaten in each of Palmer’s six starts, with the veteran throwing 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. Stanton’s numbers are underwhelming – a 49.5 completion percentage, three touchdowns and a passer rating of 81.6 – but he hasn’t thrown a pick and has appeared poised during his opportunities.

It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals can move the ball as effectively down field as they have in the past few weeks with Palmer under center. They have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, and are no slouch defensively. Cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie will provide plenty competition for the Lions wideouts.

As Peterson prepares to face Megatron on Sunday, he told Sirius XM Mad Dog Radio that he’s put his rough start to the season behind him.

"“I was disappointed in my first half of the season, I believe I wasn’t playing to my standards,” Peterson said, via “I was fighting through injuries. Now that I’m 100 percent, I’ve turned the corner, and I’m ready to roll from here on out.”"

Motor City Muscle

Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

For the Detroit Lions, I think coming out in an up-tempo, attack mode is the key to the game. Arizona is ranked 30th in the NFL against the pass, Detroit has two No. 1 wide receivers in Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, so going to the air will be a focal point for the Lions.

Detroit will also rely on their league-best defense if they want to escape the desert with a win. Coming into Sunday, the Detroit Lions defense is allowing just 283.4 yards per game. They were able to hold Miami to 228 total yards and forced a pair of turnovers in last week’s 20-16 victor.

Despite the teams 7-2 record, Lions fans, as well as coaches and players alike are remaining at least somewhat cautious early on. That’s because they also led the division through nine games last season, before dropping six of its last seven and missing the playoffs.

Jim Caldwell is believed to be the difference maker, but even he isn’t looking too far ahead.

"“It’s a journey, and we’re still on that journey,” Caldwell said. ”We’ve got the team with the best record in the National Football League coming up. You better get focused in on them quickly.”"

He doesn’t believe the Lions are getting a break with Stanton starting in place of Palmer, either. The Cardinals still have Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Brown as weapons in the passing game, and while Andre Ellington has struggled to run the ball, he has 37 receptions out of the backfield.

The Difference Maker?

Im going to give the Lions the edge if they can get quality play from Matthew Stafford in Arizona. Stafford has done a better job of protecting the ball this season, but he currently ranks 23rd in the league in passer rating with a 61.4 percent completion rate. He has proven in the past few weeks that he is certainly a clutch quarterback, and I think his skill set will continue to improve under Caldwell.

More from Detroit Lions

The other key difference maker is a healthy Calvin Johnson. The Lions Pro Bowl wideout returned last week, catching seven passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. Golden Tate also continued his strong season with 11 receptions for 109 yards. Tate’s 66 catches rank second in the league, and he set a franchise record with six straight games with at least seven receptions.

He’s also made some big ones in the final minutes of the last three games, which the Lions have won by a combined six points.

Score Prediction

32. 27. 50. Final. 24

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