The home opener at university of Phoenix Stadium is this weekend for the Arizona Cardinals, the opponent this week is the Detroit Lions, and there are many questions surrounding the team going in.
The first question that needs to be answered: Can the Cardinals get pressure on quarterback Mathew Stafford? The Detroit offense can really put up points fast and often, especially if there is no resistance. Last year’s Cardinal defense accomplish this task and was able to cause havoc for Stafford all day, causing him to be shaky in the pocket, and throwing 3 interceptions in which 2 were returned for touchdowns. The defense also caused 2 fumbles and Stafford did not throw for any touchdowns, this effort was impressive under Ray Horton’s defensive scheme and the pressure resulted in a 38-10 spanking.
The next question: Will Levi Brown get beat by a rookie? This will determine if it’s way past time to replace Levi Brown or move him inside for depth at guard or perhaps cut him. But rookie Ziggy Ansah has to be licking his chops to get the chance to see if his speed is too much for the slow of foot Brown. Should this take place in this game early, look for the Cards to replace him with new comer Bradley Sowell.
The next question: Can guards Daryn College and Paul Finaika hold up in the middle? The Detroit Lions have muscle up the middle on the defensive line with Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley clogging it up and pushing to the quarterback. The Cardinals offensive line, (with the exception of left tackle Levi Brown) has played respectable thus far. This will be the test for the guards just as Brown was tested last week, the middle can’t get clogged up with pressure, if Suh and company get off and go into beast mode where they are unblockable, it would eliminate the running game and throw off the timing of the passing game and it would for sure result in a Cardinals loss.
The Next Question: Will Patrick Peterson be able to limit Calvin Johnson? Peterson knows he will not stop him completely, judging from last years performance when Johnson finished with 10 receptions for 121 yards but was kept out of the end zone, and because of that Peterson believed he did his job. I don’t agree with that, 10 reception is way too much considering the yards, that means deep balls were caught against him all day, and Johnson was targeted 17 times, Peterson did get one interception off of those 17 targets which is decent. This match up will be decided by the pressure up front, if there is no pass rush then look for Megatron to match his last years performance but this time add some touchdowns. Peterson can’t let Johnson dominate him to the point it causes for a double and triple team. If megatron gets off, especially deep down field, it will be a long day for the Cards secondary all day.
Final Question: Will injuries play a part in the outcome? There are some key injuries that have been reported all week long that will be crucial to this game.
Larry Fitzgerald with a slight hamstring pull, Nick Fairley of the Lions with a shoulder injury, and Reggie Bush with several nagging injuries. This question will be answered at the start of the day because all of these players are listed as questionable for the game, I believe that all of them will play, but will they play at the highest level.
If Fitz does not play it will limit the offense of their scheme and would allow the defense to double the one receiver that might cause some trouble, which would be Floyd or Roberts, Both these guys would have to really play at a high level to make up for Fitz, also Peterson may be running some spot duty on offense as well.
If Failey does not play or is limited that could allow Palmer way to much time, it would be easy to double up on Suh and neutralize the pass rush up the middle, that would be a long day for the Lions defense.
This will be a good game to watch, the chest match will be interesting to see how it unfolds. Defense always will make the difference in the game and the team that can take the ball away and get pressure on the passer and disrupt the timing of the offense will be the winner.
The red sea should hype up the Cards to a higher level and I pick them to win this one 27-24 in a close one. All the answers will be answered this Sunday afternoon, I and the entire Valley will be watching to see if this team has what it takes to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss.