By Chris Morgan
The Detroit Lions returned from their bye week with a big last minute win over the Miami Dolphins. However, it only gets more difficult from here. Now, the Lions have to head on the road to to take on the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals currently have the best record in the NFL, as they are 8-1 on the season. They have yet to lose a home game, and their only loss came to the excellent Denver Broncos. This may be the Lions’ toughest matchup of the season so far. If they can win here, it will be a really impressive marker for them, not to mention their eighth win. Obviously, the Lions want to make the playoffs, but just finishing with a non-losing record would be notable.
On the other hand, perhaps this game won’t be quite as difficult as originally expected. Last week, Arizona’s starting quarterback Carson Palmer suffered a knee injury, and it may keep him out long term. Not having their starting quarterback will definitely hinder the Cardinals. However, the Cardinals have already dealt without Palmer this season. Against the Rams, Drew Stanton, former Lions quarterback, stepped in and helped the team secure the win. Stanton has been the winning quarterback a couple times this season. The only time the Cardinals lost, they were down to their third quarterback Logan Thomas.
Bruce Arians is an excellent head coach, and he will do the best with the weapons at hand. The team has a couple good wide receivers, and a good running back in Andre Ellington, but the team’s offense has been mediocre overall this year. Detroit’s excellent, top of the league defense should not find them too challenging.
Instead, the concern for the Detroit Lions will be scoring, once again. The Cardinals have a very good defense. They dealt with losing a lot of players on this side of the ball before the year, but they’ve still been excellent against both the rush and the pass. Patrick Peterson is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, but now the Lions have both Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. Peterson can only cover one of them, but the Cardinals still have another good cornerback in Antonio Cromartie, and also a couple other good players in their secondary. They’ve been stout against the run, while the Lions have been poor at rushing the ball thus far. This does not seem like the week where Reggie Bush and Joique Bell finally get off the snide.
This is shaping up to be another defensive matchup, much like the game against the Dolphins. The Lions won that one, but that was at home. This is a road game, against a better team. Really, the question here is the quarterbacking situation for the Cardinals. If Palmer was going to be under center, the ball would be very much in their favor. However, can Stanton lead them to another win, this time against a great defense? What seemed like a likely loss for the Lions now seems more like a tossup.
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Chris Morgan has been a diehard Detroit Lions fan through the good (Barry Sanders) and the bad (Matt Millen) and that love has led him to take jobs writing about sports, including as a fantasy sports “expert.” His work can be found on Examiner.com. .