The Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions both have something in common heading into Week 15. Both are coming off of a Week 14 loss. While they have that thing in common, both teams are playing for different things as the 2021 season starts to wind down.
The Cardinals (10-3) travel to Ford Field today to take on the Lions (1-11-1) with a perfect 7-0 road record. With a win, they would clinch a spot in the playoffs and become the 10th team in NFL history to go 8-0 on the road. With the new 17 game schedule, they would also have the chance to become the first team to go 9-0 on the road when they take on the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17.
The Cardinals come into this game with everything on the line while the Lions enter this one just looking for an identity. Arizona is playing for the playoffs, winning the NFC West and the number one overall seed in the NFC and home-field advantage for the playoffs.
Detroit is trying to earn their second win of the year and right the ship under first-year head coach Dan Campbell. While that has been rough lately, the Lions do have history on their side in this one. They are 3-0-1 against the Cardinals since losing to them in 2015.
But this is a different Arizona team than years prior. They are one of the most prolific offenses in the league, averaging over 28 points per game, coming in at 4th in the NFL in that category. They also rank in the top ten in total offense and passing offense while coming in at 11th in rushing offense.
The Cardinals offense is spearheaded by quarterback Kyler Murray, who has had a solid season, despite missing three games this season. Murray has 2,782 yards passing along with 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions. On the ground, he has an additional 267 yards and five scores.
As for the rest of the offense, he has weapons galore at his disposal. Running back duo James Conner and Chase Edmonds are one of the best in the league. Conner leads the team in rushing with 661 yards and is second in the league in rushing touchdowns with 14, behind only Jonathan Taylor of the Indianapolis Colts. Edmonds, in just nine games, has 430 yards and a score while averaging 5.7 yards per carry.
Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and his team-leading eight receiving touchdowns, was placed on the IR with a torn MCL on Saturday and will be out for the rest of the regular season and well into the playoffs. In his place, Christian Kirk, A.J. Green and Rondale Moore will have to step up. Kirk leads the team in yards with 718 while adding four scores while Green is coming off his second 100-yard receiving effort of the year.
They should have no problem putting up points against one of the worst defenses in the league. Detroit gives up 27.2 points per game, which ranks 29th, while ranking 28th in total defense, 17th against the pass and 28th against the run.
As for Detroit’s offense, they will be without some key players and will have to make do with what they have. Detroit will be without leading rusher D’Andre Swift (shoulder) and leading receiver T.J. Hockenson (thumb), who was placed on injured reserve on Friday. They will also be without their second leading rusher Jamaal Williams (illness).
In their places, the Lions will have to rely on the likes of Craig Reynolds, who led the team with 83 yards on eleven carries last week against Denver, and Jermar Jefferson in the backfield while relying on rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown to lead the receiving corps. St. Brown had a team-high eight receptions last week for 73 yards after setting career highs with ten receptions and 86 yards the week prior in Detroit’s only win of the season.
Quarterback Jared Goff may have a tough time in the pocket as Arizona has one of the league’s stoutest defenses and pass rushes. They rank 4th in points allowed while giving up only 19.5 points per game and are 5th in total defense, 4th in pass defense and 16th in rushing defense. They also have one of the best pass rushing duos in the league with linebackers Markus Golden and Chandler Jones. Golden is 10th in the NFL with 10 sacks while Jones comes in at 12th with 9.5.
Now time for the prediction.
I think Arizona rights the ship and gets back on track after losing last week against the Los Angeles Rams. Detroit is too injury-riddled to compete with the upper echelon of the NFL. Murray should have a field day against this pass defense while the combination of Edmonds and Conner could have a big day on the ground. If the Lions want to have any chance, they will have to win the turnover batter and make Murray commit multiple turnovers. Detroit cornerback Amani Oruwariye is third in the NFL with five interceptions and could look to add to that total.
In the end, Arizona flexes their muscle as one of the best teams in the NFC and NFL and moves to 8-0 on the road while Detroit will fall to 1-6 at home and 1-12-1 on the season with the NFL Draft and the potential first overall pick becoming clearer in their sights.
Cardinals 34, Lions 17.
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