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Lions vs. Cardinals Week 2 Preview: Battle of the position elites

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Today the Lions take to the road for the first time in the 2013 regular season to face what is probably going to be a desperate Arizona team who’s looking to avoid an 0-2 start. And believe me the Cards know the numbers, teams that start the season 0-2 have about a 12% chance of making the playoffs over the last 20 years. This game will feature high profile match ups as superstars of the NFL are set to square off; Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Bush and Patrick Peterson. Arizona is in the same position as Detroit, both teams are looking to climb up in a tough NFC and shed their images as NFL laughing stocks. Arizona however has had some recent success a few years ago with Kurt Warner and a Super Bowl run but in turn regressed the day he retired.

This season the Cardinals went out and hired Bruce Arians (formerly the offensive coordinator of the Colts and architect behind the Steelers as well as Big Ben) to replace Ken Whisenhunt as head coach. Arians was also brought in to help Larry Fitzgerald on the offensive side of the ball as Coach Arians is best known for his chunk plays and his offensive designs for when a play breaks down.

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To fill out Arizona’s roster they brought in veteran quarterback Carson Palmer and running back Rashard Mendenhall. Palmer did throw for 327 yards against the Rams last week on the road, but it wasn’t enough to win. This isn’t Palmer circa 2005 with Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. He is a well traveled veteran now with a good arm but he isn’t going to beat you by himself. He needs help and if the Cardinals are hoping for Mendenhall to light things up on the ground in that aspect it should be a good day for Detroit. Mendenhall isn’t a burner, he is a between the tackles runner that can’t still healthy. He already is bothered by a hamstring and shouldn’t do much against Detroit’s newly vamped d-Line. Zona has a snapped together offensive line and even lost their 1st round draft pick in guard Jonathan Cooper this preseason. So doing the math, Adrian Peterson is greater than Mendenhall, Detroit gave up one big run to Peterson last week before pretty much shutting him down the rest of the game. So what does that equal for Detroit’s success at stopping Mendenhall this week?

Arizona will be relying on Larry Fitzgerald as he’s the face of the team and probably all of Arizona sports at this point. He also has probably the best hands in football while currently the Lions have yet to be tested by an elite WR in their secondary. However I think Detroit can still win even if Fitz has a big day.

The key to victory for the Lions on defense will be the pressure they can put on Palmer. Arizona gave up 4 sacks and 5 QB total hits last week something Detroit will try to replicate this week. If they can get that pressure on Palmer and limit his time in the pocket there’s probably a pretty good chance that another major objective, stopping Larry Fitzgerald, will also be accomplished.

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Detroit is also facing a good defense in Arizona, but not great. Patrick Peterson is the best young corner in the game, defensive tackle Darnell Dockett has been able to dominant in games but goes missing for time to time and Karlos Dansby is one of the games better linebackers but playing in Arizona has brought him away from the spotlight. The key to success for Detroit on offense will be Reggie Bush again this week. The Cards are equipped to handle Calvin Johnson but not a combination of Reggie and Megatron. Because of that I see Stafford with a big day again on a defense that is typically good against the pass while Bush will probably chase another 200 total yard day.

Forward down the field to a Lions victory 28-17.

About Jason Bray

Detroit Sports Columist. Joined The Majors staff in 2012 covering the Detroit Lions.

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