Although the season official kicked off Thursday, professional football is back. For the Arizona Cardinals, they will go to battle with a familiar opponent in the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Arizona has won 12 of the past 15 matchups overall.
The last time the two teams met, the Cardinals embarrassed the Lions 42-17. Carson Palmer threw three touchdowns in the game, while Matthew Stafford threw three interceptions.
Last year, the Lions (9-7) played their way to the Wild Card spot. Arizona, on the other hand, played their way to a 7-8-1 season full of mishaps and disappointment. The Cardinals will look to bounce back in 2017.
Keys to a Cardinals victory
If the Cardinals want to themselves in a good position to win the game on Sunday, they will have to score some points in the first quarter. The Cardinals did not score a point in the first quarter until week 6 of last season, this cannot occur again in 2017.
Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson cannot be the only names being called in the passing game. John Brown showed flashes in the preseason that he could be the deep threat he was in 2015.
Brown, diagnosed with sickle-cell trait last season, will have to elevate his game if the Cardinals have any hopes of going far this season. Jaron Brown will be returning from a knee injury and will provide the Cardinals with a big target down field.
The Cardinals will have to keep Palmer upright if they hope to sustain long drives. Palmer was sacked 40 times last season; each game that Palmer was sacked three more times the Cardinals did not win. With a revamped offensive line, that will be one of the things to keep an eye on in week one.
Key to a Lions victory
The biggest key would be for the Detroit defense to stop David Johnson. A’Shawn Robinson and Ezekiel Ansah will try to keep Johnson on the line of scrimmage, while rookie Jarrad Davis and Paul Worrilow will try to prevent Johnson from breaking the big run.
The offensive line will have to do everything in their power to keep Stafford upright. Lions offensive tackles Greg Robinson and Rick Wagner will have their hands full as Chandler Jones and Markus Golden look to repeat double digit sack seasons.
Since moving the ball in the passing game will be tough, Ameer Abdullah will have to make the most of his opportunities in the ground game. Abdullah is coming off a foot injury that caused him to miss the entire 2016 season.
For the Arizona Cardinals, Deone Bucannon is ruled out after reinjuring his ankle. Robert Nkemdiche is listed as questionable with a calf injury, as is offensive guard Mike Iupati with a triceps injury.
For the Detroit Lions, Ansah and wide receiver Kenny Golladay were listed as questionable but practiced all week, most likely each will see action in the season opener.
If the Cardinals want to be in the Super Bowl conversation come January, they will have to get to a hot start. After changing everything on special teams and adding a good combination of youth and experience, the Cardinals will show they are new and improved.
The Lions will keep the game close, but David Johnson and the Cardinals offense will lead the Cardinals to a week one victory.
Arizona 28 – Lions 17