CARDINALS VS. LIONS
SUNDAY, 1 P.M. ET, FORD FIELD, DETROIT uTV: FOX, DIRECTV 712
Announcers: Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin
About the Cardinals: After a 7-8-1 record followed three winning seasons, two playoff berths and one division title in coach
first four years, there is a renewed urgency as QB and WR
inch closer to retirement. Although that prolific connection returns, gone are backbone DL Calais Campbell; Kevin Minter, their snaps leader at linebacker; and three starting defensive backs, including their tackles leader (S Tony Jefferson) and interceptions leader (Marcus Cooper). Arizona still has the NFL’s most productive edge-rushing duo ( and three-time all-pro DBs and
and the No. 6 scoring offense, catalyzed by do-everything RB
Quick contributions from two top rookie defenders, LB and S Budda Baker, could be key.
About the Lions: With a rather large order of business out of the way — making QB
the highest-paid player in NFL history with a five-year contract extension — Detroit turns its focus to trying to reach consecutive postseasons for the first time since 1994-95. To pick up where they left off in early December, when coach club was 9-4 before Stafford dislocated his right middle finger and they lost four in a row to end the season, the Lions must take pressure off their freshly minted passer with major improvements on the ground and by more frequently pressuring and pickpocketing other quarterbacks. Caldwell is a lame duck despite two playoff appearances and a 27-21 record.
Detroit spent the 21st overall pick on Davis for these types of matchups. Johnson is perhaps the game’s best receiving back, and Davis’ speed and instincts are crucial to limiting Johnson’s damage.
Player to watch: Lions DE Ezekiel Ansah: He’s the most important non-quarterback on the Lions, whose 30th-ranked pass rush will be without its top three sack pro-
WHO WILL WIN AND WHY
ducers from last season. Ansah is more talented than all of them, but he enters a contract year after missing the preseason because of the same ankle injury that sabotaged his 2016 season.
Week 13 of the 2013 season, or 54 games ago, Reggie Bush rushed for 117 yards on 20 carries — Detroit’s last individual 100-yard rushing performance.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Expensive blind side: With starting LT Taylor Decker opening the season on the physically unable to perform list, 2014 No. 2 overall pick must protect Detroit’s $135 million quarterback from Jones and Golden, who combined for 231⁄ sacks last season. Robinson made impressive strides after being acquired in June.
2. Stealing possessions: Detroit went its final five games last year without registering a takeaway. Palmer will take risks with the football, though, potentially an opportunity for CB
FS and the rest of the Lions’ maligned secondary.
3. Smoke detector: Arizona has a future Hall of Famer in Fitzgerald and then a lot of questions at receiver. The key to the passing attack might be who has the speed Arians’ aggressive offense needs.
4. Bull’s-eye Bethel: Perhaps no Cardinal will receive more attention than new starting CB That’s the life of playing opposite Peterson, and Bethel, a key specialteamer without much starting experience, must prove he can hold up.
Bruce Markus Golden), Patrick Peterson
David Matthew Stafford enters his ninth season as Lions quarterback.
Matchup to watch: Johnson vs. Lions rookie MLB Jarrad Davis: