In an intriguing Week 1 matchup, the Arizona Cardinals travel to Ford Field to take on the Detroit Lions. Both teams are expected to contend for a Wild Card sport, which makes this early season game even more important. Kickoff in Detroit, Michigan, is at 1 P.M. ET.
The Arizona Cardinals have won 7 straight games against the Lions and have the offensive firepower to make it an 8th straight. However, there are some concerns on the defensive side that could potentially cost them games this season, including this Week 1 matchup.
For the Lions, not only do they want to break this streak, but they also look to avenge the 2015 embarrassment that they suffered at the hands of the Cardinals to the tune of 42-17. With the NFL’s highest paid quarterback in Matthew Stafford leading this pack of Lions, will they be able to restore some pride in Motown?
The spread opened with Detroit the favorite at -2.5 points. Since then, the Lions are now the underdogs at +1 points. The Over/Under dropped from an opening of 49 points down to 48 points.
Last year, the Cardinals rode the legs of running back David Johnson to a 7-8-1 record, but could’ve had more success if quarterback Carson Palmer was healthy and the offensive line played consistently. This year, everyone is healthy up front and Palmer looks to make one more run at a Super Bowl appearance. Despite a healthy Palmer and a potentially lethal passing attack, the Cardinals will continue to count on Johnson to carry them to a winning season, and a week 1 win on the road.
Johnson amassed over 2,100 total yards and 20 touchdowns in 2016, establishing himself as one of the league’s top backs. He’s a dual threat weapon out of the backfield that could possibly eclipse 1,500 yards on the ground and 1,000 yards receiving this year. Johnson has the potential to crush the backbones of defenses and keep the Cardinals ahead on the scoreboard, which he will do this week in Detroit.
The Lions defense was average at best last year. They gave up over 106 yards on the ground in 2016, and you can bet that Johnson will easily surpass that mark. Arizona had a solid defense last year, but loss some key players during the offseason. With numerous question marks on the Cardinals defense, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford could have a big game at home.
Stafford finished 2016 with over 4,300 passing yards and 26 total touchdowns, compared to just 10 interceptions. He willed this team back in many games last year and is going to be called on to do the same thing in week 1. With Marvin Jones Jr. and Golden Tate as the team’s two top receivers, the Cardinals secondary matches up well with them. If their d-line can get some pressure on Stafford then this could be another blowout in Motown.
The Over is 7-0 in the Cardinals last 7 games, 6-0 in the Cardinals last 6 games on field turf, 5-0 in their last 5 road games and 6-0 in their last 6 conference games. In the last 5 meetings between these two teams, the Over is 5-0.
Look for Detroit to try and stop the Cardinals running game, leaving their receivers in some favorable one-on-one matchups. Expect the Cardinals to easily eclipse their 26 ppg of 2016 on their way to a big lead. This is when Stafford will make his charge and close the scoring gap late in the game, and the point total will easily cruise past 48 points.