Here are five things I’ll be watching when the Detroit Lions take on the Arizona Cardinals this afternoon:
1. Calvin Johnson will remain the number one reason to watch the Detroit Lions for the remainder of the season as he chases down Jerry Rice‘s single-season receiving record of 1,848 yards. Johnson needs to average 101 yards per game through the last three games to break the record. He’s easily eclipsed that number in six-straight games and the Cardinals aren’t exactly on par with some of the opponents he’s faced during that streak.
2. The turnover battle is an important aspect of any NFL game but that’s not the reason it makes this list. The Cardinals have one of the worst quarterback situations in recent memory and are losers of nine straight. They are coming off an eight turnover performance last week against the Seattle Seahawks – another outing like that will provide a ton of comedic value.
3. The last time most football fans in Michigan saw Ryan Lindley quarterback a team was during last year’s college football season when Lindley’s San Diego State Aztecs visited the Michigan Wolverines. He wasn’t particularly sharp on that day, completing just 23 of 48 passes. Can the Lions force him into worse?
4. Louis Delmas is officially listed as questionable so he is a 50-50 bet to play. The Lions won’t want to risk his long-term health but they should feel a lot better about moving forward with him in 2013 and beyond if he is able to get on the field and contribute down the stretch. Will he play and if he does, how much?
5. The Lions may be finding ways to lose games as opposed to winning games but they will be the better team on the field today. Getting a win is a must and failing to do so represents rock bottom in an already disappointing season. The Lions used a 4-0 run at the end of 2010 as a springboard into 2011 and they need to approach their final three games of 2012 the same way. Go out, play well, win, no excuses.