Lions -2.5 @ Cardinals (Odds taken from 5Dimes.eu)
The Lions face off against the Arizona Cardinals this week as they travel to University of Phoenix Stadium. The Lions looked impressive last week and look to be back to the team we saw in 2011. Despite some early first half turnovers and silly penalties, they were able to overcome those to defeat the Vikings 34-24 in their home opener. The Cardinals began the 2013 campaign in St. Louis, where they put themselves in position to pull out a victory. However, the offense struggled to pick up some key 3rd downs late and the defense just couldn’t hold up as they lost a heartbreaker 27-24. This is an interesting NFC matchup as the Lions look to build off their opening week win and the Cardinals look to bounce back at home.
Detroit Lions: As I watched the first half of the Detroit/Minnesota game, I couldn’t stop thinking “ohh here we go again”. Under Jim Schwartz, the Lions have earned a reputation for dumb penalties, cheap hits and inopportune turnovers.. Well, the first half vs. the Vikings was more of the same and consisted of a dirty Ndmukong Suh hit bringing back a defensive touchdown, a botched snap on a field goal, a fumble and an interception. Despite all that, the Lions were only down 14-13 at halftime. In the second half they flipped the script and were able to shut down Adrian Peterson and the Christian Ponder led Viking offense. They stacked eight men in the box all game long and forced Ponder to beat them over the top. He was unable to and it resulted in the Vikings inability to move the ball. On offense, Reggie Bush seems to be the answer to what the Lions were missing last season, as he sparked the attack with 90 rushing yards and 101 receiving yards. It’s no secret that this offense wants to drop back and throw the ball, but in order for that to be effective, the running back has to take some pressure off Stafford and force those safeties to come down and play the run. This will allow for more one on one coverage for the beast that is Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. The Lions have a tough task this week though, as the Cardinals are no pushovers at home.
Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals lost a thriller in St. Louis last week and look to get their first win of the season for new head coach Bruce Arians. With a new quarterback and head coach, I expected to see some disconnect in their first game together but there was none. The offense, which was embarrassing at times last year, looked smooth and in sink. Carson Palmer looked like the man we saw lead the Bengals to the playoffs and Fitzgerald dominated respected cornerback, Cortland Finnegan all game long. The Cardinals brought in Rashard Mendehall to try and solve their lack of production in the backfield but his performance was mediocre at best, putting more pressure on Palmer and the passing game to execute. On the defensive side of the ball, the Cardinals continue to show that they are one of the best units in the NFL. I know the Rams scored 27 points, but most of those came late and off of turnovers. Patrick Peterson is one of the best up and coming corners in the game and will be assigned to Calvin Johnson in this matchup. The difference maker could be first year corner Tyrann Mathieu, aka the Honeybadger, who forced a key fumble in last week’s contest.
The line in this game opened at a pick and now is up to 2.5 in some sports books. This tells me that although the Lions looked impressive in week one, odds makers still believe this team has more to prove and can be prone to big mistakes in key situations. The Cardinals are a very good home team, as their defense will feed off the crowd’s energy. Remember, in week 15 last year, they ended their nine game losing streak with a 38-10 win over Detroit. I believe what the Lions want to do on offense plays right into the Cardinals strength, which is their secondary. They will double-team Calvin Johnson and force guys like Nate Burleson to beat them. Turnovers and key third down stops will be the difference and I just don’t trust the Lions to make smart plays when the game’s on the line.
Cardinals 30 Lions 24
Play: Cardinals +2.5 (5Dimes)