NFL Wire News

Lions have hands full with Cardinals this week

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The Sports Xchange

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions gave up six plays of 20-plus yards against the Seahawks last week, and if there are any similar openings Sunday, the Cardinals will surely exploit them.

With the NFL’s fourth-best offense and three receivers capable of taking over a game, Arizona presents a tremendous challenge to the Lions’ 25th-ranked defense, and the players know stopping the deep passes Arizona head coach Bruce Arians likes to call will be important.

“It’s ‘Bombs over Baghdad’ around here,” Lions free safety Glover Quin said of the Cardinals’ passing attack, referencing the Outkast song. “They’re throwing that thing out.”

The Lions’ defense showed some improvement last week, sacking Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson six times and recovering two fumbles. Linebacker DeAndre Levy will likely make his season debut after dealing with a hip injury the past six weeks, which could give the group a boost.

However, the only team the Lions have played this season with similarly dangerous receivers was the Denver Broncos, who exploited cornerback Darius Slay for a couple deep jump balls. With receivers Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and Michael Floyd, the Cardinals can create desirable matchups on different plays, and putting Brown against Lions slot receiver Josh Wilson could spell trouble for Detroit.

“(Brown) is as fast as I don’t know what,” Slay said. “He’s a fast guy and can take the top off the defense without a problem.”

Meanwhile, even if the Lions’ defense can limit the high-powered Cardinals attack, which is led by quarterback Carson Palmer who has a 106.4 passer rating this season, the offense will have to find a way to score against Arizona’s fifth-ranked defense. The Lions haven’t scored an offensive touchdown in their last 15 possessions and rank 29th in total offense.

“We definitely have had and we still have high expectations for ourselves, so it’s just a matter of getting this thing turned around,” Lions receiver Calvin Johnson said. “Just attention to detail on every snap, you can’t relax, you can’t know, you can’t fall asleep, you can’t rush.”

SERIES HISTORY: 64th regular-season meeting. Lions lead series, 31-27-5. The Cardinals have won the last six meetings between the two teams, but five of those were in Arizona. The Lions are 3-1 against the Cardinals at Ford Field.

GAME PLAN

–The Cardinals are 16th in run defense, so the Lions have to try to finally get their run game going. They should give the ball to rookie running back Ameer Abdullah early and often because if Arizona has to focus on him, it could open opportunities for the Lions’ passing game. For the most part, those opportunities wouldn’t be there against a stingy Arizona secondary.

Defensively, the Lions must play with at least one safety deep. If they give the Cardinals opportunities to strike deep, then it will be tough to stop that offense.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

–Lions WR Calvin Johnson, who has yet to reach 90 yards in a game this year, vs. Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson, who will likely follow him for much of the game.

–Lions CB Darius Slay, who is their fastest cover man, vs. Cardinals WR John Brown, who is capable of beating many teams deep.


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