With the Detroit Lions facing a big road test for control of the NFC against the Arizona Cardinals, SideLion Report’s Braden Shackelford got together with Raising Zona‘s Scott Allen for a Q&A.
Here are Braden’s questions followed by Scott’s answers.
1. The news this week in Arizona is obviously Carson Palmer’s devastating season ending injury. My heart goes out to Carson and the Cardinals’ organization, especially with the season they are having. Are the Cardinals Super Bowl contenders with Drew Stanton at the helm?
"Yes, although many NFL “insiders” will try to tell you otherwise. I think what they are looking at is now Drew has to come in and perform for seven regular season games and up to 4 playoff games. They don’t think he can do it over the long haul. He’s more of a need you for a game or two kid of guy and will run off of adrenaline. Personally I think that’s ridiculous. Stanton is 2-1 and could even give him a 2 1/2-1 record if you count him bringing the Cardinals from behind last week. His one loss was to Denver and he was in that game when he got knocked out. Cardinals can definitely win with him."
2. The Cardinals sport the league’s best record. What has made the Cardinals so tough to beat this season?
"Opportunistic defense. Offense when they absolutely need it. Last week was a prime example against the Rams. Down 14-10 when Palmer gets hurt. Stanton comes in, throws a huge touchdown to go up 17-14 and it was like a light went on with the defensive intensity. Three turnovers later it was 31-14 and game over. It’s a different guy every week too. Patrick Peterson one week, Antonio Cromartie another. Larry Foote, Tyrann Mathieu, Ed Stinson, Tony Jefferson, Deone Bucaanon. They all have contributed at different times but all at crucial times in the game."
3. The Cardinals’ defense is better against the run than against the pass. The Lions offense is better throwing the ball than running. Is this the match up that could swing the game for either side?
"The Cardinals pass defense is a little misleading. Yes, they do get torched for a lot of yards but when the game counts the other teams have proven they don’t have enough to get over the top. The only quarterback to get away with beating that defesne with a lot of yards has been Peyton Manning. And even then the Cards were able to pick him off twice to keep them in the game that was still 24-20 in the fourth quarter. I think Matthew Stafford will get his yards. As you said, the Cards are good at stopping the run and the Lions don’t run the ball well, so I think it sets itself up to see Stafford air it out a lot on Sunday and definitely could be the difference."
4. Which Cardinals’ rookie have you been most impressed with?
"The have several that have stepped up big but no one has made a bigger impact than receiver John Brown. That kid is fast. He can make any overthrow look like it is on the money. He is exciting to watch and has a good head on his shoulders. He’s smart and humble. He’s going to be a fun one to watch for years."
5. Who wins Sunday? Don’t forget a final score!
"Like many of the other games the Cardinals and Lions have played against their opponents this season, I think it’ll come down to the fourth quarter. Who makes the last big play? It really is a toss up in my book with how well both teams are playing and how much fourth quarter magic both have had this season. I will go Cardinals but only because they are at home. Arizona 27, Detroit 24"
For more on the Cardinals ahead of this weekend’s game, check out Raising Zona.