With the Detroit Lions set for a big NFC showdown against the Arizona Cardinals, here is a look at what the SideLion Report staff sees for the game ahead.
With the First Pick
Kent Platte – On the one hand, Arizona offense relies on plays that Detroit has been stellar against. Drew Stanton has been a deep passer, relies on it to be even as marginally effective as he’s been, but the Lions have only allowed one TD longer than 15 yards all season. On the other hand, their defense is opportunistic, leading the league in interceptions despite very poor coverage numbers otherwise. It should be a battle of the two defenses, but it could very well be a blowout or either team. I predicted the defenses would hold it close last week and I don’t want to appear like a broken record so I will go the other route. 42-17 Detroit over Arizona, banking on Drew Stanton giving the Lions points and the Lions playing ball control all game. Again, this could very well end up with the score flipped or be another close one, but I’m feeling confident in how the Lions match up.
Alex Reno – The Lions have not won in Arizona since 1993, and University of Phoenix Stadium is just generally a tough place to win on the road. I don’t see any of that changing, and the Lions fail to come away with a victory for yet another year. If they do want to win, however, they’ll have to step it up on offense against a tough Cardinals secondary. The defense will get to Stanton and Arizona’s offense early, but they’ll need to create turnovers if they want to win on the road. The Lions lose a close one with the final score: Cardinals 17, Lions 16.
Braden Shackelford – If Carson Palmer was playing for the Cardinals it would be difficult for me to pick against them, but he isn’t so this game feels like another coin flip game. I’ll give the edge to the Lions, because they have all their weapons at their disposal on offense and their defense has applied has been tough to stop. Lions win 20-17
Darin Ackerman – This week the Lions head west to take on the Arizona Cardinals in their quest to sit atop the NFC. With two of the best defenses in the league, this game will prove to be a brawl-fest. Quarterback Carson Palmer will be out for the rest of the season for the Cardinals, giving the Lions’ defense the perfect opportunity to take advantage of their knowledge of back-up QB Drew Stanton’s play style. The key will be containing the mobile Stanton play action game. If Lions can find a way to out-maneuver the Cardinal’s top run defense, Detroit will be walking away from this match up with the win. Not this time though. Prediction: Arizona 21, Detroit 17
Max DeMara – The Lions never seem to win in the desert against the Cardinals, and have seen some of their best and worst teams go down in flames there, so it’s extremely tough to pick the game. The difference this year is quarterback play. Drew Stanton hasn’t seen a defense like Detroit’s, so the Arizona offense struggles. Somehow, the Lions pull out another big win, hitting 8-2. Detroit 27, Arizona 17
Zac Snyder – The Arizona Cardinals defense gets credit as one of the NFL’s best, but they are middle of the pack when it comes to giving up yardage to opposing offenses. Where the Cardinals defense shines is in forcing turnovers (number one in interceptions, two returned for touchdowns). If the Lions can avoid turning the ball over, there is no reason to expect they won’t be able to move the ball and put up some points. Defensively, I look for the Lions to get after the quarterback to keep from allowing Drew Stanton time to make big plays down the field. A clean game on offense and an effective pass rush give the Lions the win, 24-16.
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