After two bad losses against divisional foes, the Detroit Lions will look to turn their season around on the road against the Arizona Cardinals.
The Cardinals are off to a hot 2-0 start, including a victory of the reigning NFC champions, the San Francisco 49ers. Second-year sensation Kyler Murray looks even better than last year and is now one of the most exciting players in the league especially paired with superstar receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Here are three key matchups the Detroit Lions need to focus on that could decide the outcome of Sunday’s matchup.
Kyler Murray vs Jarrad Davis
In the past, the Detroit Lions have often spied mobile quarterbacks and expect that to continue against the elusive Kyler Murray. Jarrad Davis will likely have the tall task of keeping up with Murray as he should have enough speed to try and corral Murray.
Murray has been great so far on both scrambles and designed runs, especially in the red zone. In two games, he has already rushed for three touchdowns and 158 yards (Pro Football Reference).
Davis must have a great game in terms of tackling and pursuit angles to prevent Murray from running all over the Lions defense. If they can do that, they have a chance to slow down the Cardinals offense as the rest of the run game has struggled to this point.
T.J. Hockenson vs Budda Baker
T.J. Hockenson has been the most consistent contributor to the Lions offense as long as he stays involved in the offense. He has been able to get open consistently and be a reliable target for Matthew Stafford. His improvement will be put to the test against Budda Baker, who is one of the best safeties in the league.
Hockenson will assuredly be at the top of the Cardinal’s scouting report after his monster Week One last year. If Hockenson can continue to get open, he can continue to provide a reliable target for Stafford, who can help move the ball up and down the field.
Kenny Golladay vs. Patrick Peterson
The Detroit Lions top target from last year, Kenny Golladay, is back after missing the first two weeks with a hamstring injury. WIthout Golladay, the Lions offense has looked very different without their downfield threat to stretch the defense.
Luckily, Golladay has an excellent opportunity to get off to a hot start against the Cardinals secondary. Despite Patrick Peterson’s outstanding reputation, he has had a rocky start to the season against weak receiver groups in San Francisco and Washington.
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If Peterson continues to struggle with Golladay, it should open up the Lions offense and make life easier for the rest of the team.