ARIZONA CARDINALS AT DETROIT LIONS
SERIES HISTORY: 65th regular-season meeting. Lions lead series, 31-28-5, but the Cardinals have won each of the past seven meetings dating back to 2006 and 12 of the past 15 overall. Arizona crushed Detroit 42-17 the last time the teams met, in October 2015 at Ford Field, as Carson Palmer threw three touchdown passes. Matthew Stafford was benched upon being intercepted for a third time in the game as Detroit fell to 0-5 to start the season. The series dates all the way back to 1930 when the then-Chicago Cardinals played to a 0-0 tie against the then-Portsmouth Spartans.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Cardinals led the NFL in sacks and finished second in total defense last season, so moving the ball won't be easy for the Lions. Ameer Abdullah has looked good in his return from Lisfranc surgery, and it's imperative the Lions get something out of their ground game against a stingy pass defense. Tight end Darren Fells could see an expanded role as a second tight end because of his blocking prowess.
Carson Palmer doesn't move particularly well at quarterback; so, if the Lions can get pressure up the middle, they should be able to disrupt Arizona's offense. Rookie middle linebacker Jarrad Davis will have his hands full against David Johnson, one of the best pass-catching backs in the NFL.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Lions LT Greg Robinson vs. Cardinals DE Chandler Jones. The Lions are counting on Robinson to hold down the left tackle spot until Taylor Decker returns. Last year with the Rams, Robinson shared blocking responsibilities on three sacks (one a sack-fumble) and drew two penalties in two games vs. the Cardinals.
--Lions WR Marvin Jones vs. Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson. Jones got off to a hot start last season but faded over the final three months as teams started to play him more physically. He'll see plenty of man coverage against Peterson and the Cardinals this week.
CARDINALS NOTABLE ROOKIE: Inside linebacker Haason Reddick. He received first-team snaps since spring because of an ongoing ankle issue with starter Deone Bucannon, so don't be surprised if this first-round pick begins to excel with every passing week. He has more reps and learned more of the nuances of the position by working alongside veteran Karlos Dansby than he would have if Bucannon had not spent camp on the PUP list. The Cardinals love Reddick's lateral quickness and ability to also rush the passer.
LIONS NOTABLE ROOKIE: Linebacker Jarrad Davis. The 21st pick in April's draft, Davis is slated to start at middle linebacker and call plays for the Lions' defense this fall. He should put up huge tackle numbers and rarely come off the field. More important: His presence should impact a unit that was the weak link on the defense last fall.
FAST FACTS: Arizona QB Carson Palmer passed for 4,233 yards last season, his third season with 3,500 with Arizona. He ranks 14th in career passing yards (44,269) and TD passes (285) in NFL history. ... Arizona RB David Johnson set franchise records in scrimmage yards (2,118), rushing TDs (16) and total TDs (20) in 2016. He had an NFL-record 15 consecutive games with 100 scrimmage yards to begin the season. ... Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald ranks third all-time in receptions (1,125) and eighth in TD catches (104). He led the NFL in receptions (107) last season. ... Detroit QB Matthew Stafford passed for 4,327 yards last season, fifth most in franchise history. He led eight winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, the most in the NFL since 1970. ... Detroit WR Golden Tate had 91 receptions for 1,077 yards in 2016, his second 1,000-yard season. He has 90-plus catches in three consecutive seasons. ... Detroit S Glover Quin has 16 interceptions since 2013, most among NFC safeties.
PREDICTION: Johnson and Arizona's pass rush should help Bruce Arians improve to 4-0 vs. the Lions.
OUR PICK: Cardinals, 20-16.