On Sunday afternoon, the Arizona Cardinals will host the Detroit Lions behind yet another sold out crowd at University of Phoenix Stadium. The last time these two teams met, Arizona made all the plays when it mattered en route to a 38-10 victory over Detroit. That game was played between two football teams who were planning their summer vacations and looking forward to abysmal seasons coming to an end. This time around, it’s Week 2 of a fresh new season with both teams hoping for improved seasons. Let’s take a look at some important factors that could potentialy decide the outome of the game:
1. Lions lack of discipline Detroit committed 11 penalties, costing them 88 yards last week versus NFC North division rival Minnesota. Of course one of those penalties was committed by DT Ndamukong Suh, who was fined $100,000 by the league for his hit on Vikings center John Sullivan. Suh epitomizes the makeup of the Lions team. They lack the discipline on both sides of the ball. Perhaps if Arizona can irritate Suh and the Lions, the Cardinals may find ways to get the extra yardage to extend drives and rack points on the board.
2.Cards offensive line It seems as if every week, the Cardinals’ O-line play is in question and rightfully so. Last week, Arizona gave up 4 sacks against the Rams. 3 of those sacks were given up by LT Levi Brown. If Brown does not show imporvement against Detroit, it could be a long day for Carson Palmer and the entire Cardinals offense. Detroit poses one of the best defensve lines in the NFL, with Suh and Nick Fairley leading the defense. Fairley has been hampered by an injury throughout the week and his status for Sunday’s game remains uncertain. If he does not play ,it could give Arizona’s O-line a bit of a break. However, Levi Brown and the entire offensive line must protect QB Carson Palmerin order for Arizona to have a chance at defeating Detroit.
3. Containing Reggie Bush Calvin Johnson will undoubtedly get his numbers, regardless of how well he is covered. The one player Arizona must limit is RB Reggie Bush, who had a great debut on Sunday, rushing for 91 yards and receiving 4 catches for 101 yards. As the numbers show, Bush is an explosive player who poses a threat for the defense. His quickness and agility will present problems for Arizona. It will be up to Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell, and company to contain Bush.The Cardinals cannot afford to see both Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush go off on Sunday. Bush is currently listed as probable for Sunday afternoons game with thumb and groin issues. Nonetheless, it is essential that Bruce Arians and the Cardinals game-plan focuses on Bush.
4.Pressure Pressure Pressure The Cardinals were just one of three teams that failed to record a sack in Week 1 of the NFL season. They failed to pressure Sam Bradford and as a result, watched the QB comfortably sling the ball down the field. It is crucial that Arizona’s defensive line pressures Matthew Stafford . Stafford has a great arm and has much more weapons then Bradford. I expect to hear Darnell Dockett’s name called on Sunday as he was unusually quite last week against St. Louis. Stafford is capable of filling up the stat sheet quickly. It is crucial the Cardinals dial up some pressure to make Stafford uncomfortable and force him outside the pocket.
All in all, I expect to see an exciting, high scoring football game on Sunday. If Bird Gangcan play to their full potential, I expect Arizona to walk away with a hard fought victory.