We still have a day to wait to find out how the game between the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals will actually play out but the SideLion Report staff chimes in with their expectations and predictions.
Dean Holden – The Lions enter Sunday’s action undefeated thanks to a strong showing against the Vikings. For most of that game, the greatest threat to the Lions appeared to be the Lions themselves, and that’s a theme that will likely carry over all season. This is a team with the talent to dominate both sides of the ball, if they can get out of their own way. Until they prove they can stop beating themselves, even the league’s worst teams have a chance of beating the Lions.
Having said that, the Arizona Cardinals no longer appear to be one of the league’s worst teams. New quarterback Carson Palmer has seemingly revived the passing offense, which was already loaded with weapons. If Palmer gets time to throw, he’ll combine with Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, and Michael Floyd to dismantle the Lions’ secondary. Luckily, the Lions’ defense line specializes in taking that time away from quarterbacks. Palmer is at his best when he can settle into a rhythm and doesn’t have to move around very much, but with one of the league’s best defensive lines facing off against one of the league’s worst offensive lines, it should be an uncomfortable day for Palmer and the Cardinals. Prediction: Lions 30, Cardinals 19.
Matt Pelc – Detroit has lost six straight in Arizona, dating back to 1993. They have lost some strange games there, from the Bobby Ross “going for two” debacle in 1998 to the upset in 2007 that began the tumble which turned a promising 6-2 start into a 7-9 finish. Not to mention the decimation of last year.
Heading into the season, most expected the Cardinals’ offense to struggle and defense to be strong, however their 27-24 opening weekend loss in St. Louis seemed to tell another story. The Lions need to move the focus from stopping the run to keeping Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer in check. Adrian Peterson provided a good test for the defensive line and linebackers last week, Arizona should test the secondary. Palmer had a great day against the Lions the last time he faced them in 2011 as a member of the Oakland Raiders, going 32 of 40 for 367 yards with a touchdown.
If the Lions are to find success this season, they’ll need to snap several long road losing streaks. Arizona is up first, followed by Washington, Green Bay and Pittsburgh. In their first chance, the Lions will succeed. Prediction: Lions 27, Cardinals 17.
Justin Simon – The Lions will look to vindicate themselves this Sunday for their Week 15 collapse last season against the Cardinals. The first thing the Lions will notice is that the Cardinals now have a legitimate quarterback throwing the ball in Carson Palmer. The first thing the Cardinals will notice is how different this offense looks compared to the last time these teams met. The Lions added Reggie Bush, and also will have a healthy stable of receivers for this go around.
I expect the Lions to get after Carson Palmer all day, much like the Rams did last week. The Lions haven’t won in Arizona since 1993 so history is going against them, but I’m hedging my bets that the Lions can break that streak and get to 2-0. Lions 31, Cardinals 17.
Aaron Meckes – Detroit’s defensive line gets to Carson Palmer early and often, taking pressure off the defensive backs. Calvin Johnson has a big first half as Bruce Arians lets Patrick Peterson take him with minimal safety help. Reggie Bush takes over in the second half as Detroit survives a fourth quarter push by the Cards. Lions hang on for a 31-21 victory.
Darin Ackerman – Expect a pass-heavy attack from the Cards as they’re struggling to get their ground game under way, finishing with a paltry 86 yards last week vs. the Rams. The Lions front seven will again step up to the challenge in stopping the run, leaving Arizona one dimensional on the offensive side of the ball. However, Palmer has weapons in Fitzgerald, Floyd and Roberts and the coaching staff will look to exploit size mismatches with Houston, while preying on the lack of experience in young corners Slay and Bentley. The play of the Lions’ offensive line, while very good last week, will likely take a step back as they attempt to adjust to multiple pressure packages coming from a talented 3-4 front. This will mean getting rid of the ball quickly, with Bush, Burleson and Pettigrew working underneath routes when matched up against the Card’s LBs to move the chains. Certainly the Peterson/Johnson match-up will be one of the best in this week’s games and should make for exciting football. I expect the Lions balanced offensive attach to eke out a victory. Lions 24, Arizona 21.
Braden Shackelford – Every game in the NFL is important, but this one to me could be a defining moment for the Lions season on whether they will compete for a division title or be a middle of the road team. Going into Arizona, a place the Lions haven’t won since 1993, the Lions will be playing a completely different team then they saw towards the end of last season. With the addition of Carson Palmer the Cardinals now have a legitimate offense that pairs well with their stout defense. The key for the Lions will be taking advantage of the one on one match ups that Calvin Johnson sees against Patrick Peterson. If they can do that it will open up lanes for Reggie Bush to have another explosive week. On the defensive side of the ball we should get a better idea of what this unit will look like against a more balanced offense. If the Lions can get the same kind of production out of their pass rushers as they did last week they should be able to win an important game on the road. Lions win 31-21.
Zac Snyder – I don’t care what happened last year. The only impact that game has on this game is that is might give the Lions a little extra focus to do what they should do, and that is win. Lions 30, Cardinals 24.