Arizona Cardinals at Detroit Lions
Time: NOON (CT), FOX (sept 10, 2017)
Spread: ARI -1
Odds c/o 5dimes
Matt Stafford has a big new contract and hosts the Arizona Cardinals in his 2017 opener, but past events against Zona suggest that it may not be the best matchup for the Lions franchise quarterback. Stafford threw three interceptions in a 42-17 loss at home a year ago to the Cardinals, and Arizona does enter as 1-point favorites in the opener which will air at Noon (Central Time) on FOX.
Stafford remarked on the uniqueness of the Arizona secondary, citing that “they’re ballhawks out there.” The Cardinals has dealt well with Detroit’s arial attack, and the Cardinal’ DTs keep the pressure on Stafford in the pocket. The Lions signed RT Rick Wagner and RG TJ Lang during free agency, and the Lions then traded for Greg Robinson after Taylor Decker suffered a shoulder injury. The Lions also have a good back in Ameer Abdullah, but he played just two games last year due to foot injuries. Theo Riddick is a dual-feature back who will back up Abdullah mostly as a pass-catcher, but he missed 10 games last year with wrist injuries.
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Keeping its key performers healthy in 2017 is essential for the Lions, and Stafford feels at least right now, that the backfield is there. The Lions snuck into the postseason last year with a wild card berth, and the Seattle Seahawks promptly eliminated them.
The Cardinals’ 7-8-1 season was a disappointment of sorts, as preseason expectations ran high for team. Bruce Arians said the team got off to a good start, but he really figures that getting off to a good start on the road is important this year in Detroit’s venue in particular. David Johnson should factor enormously for Arians this season and the Cardinals. He rushed for 1,239 yards and caught 80 passes for 879 yards while scoring 20 total TDs a year ago. Arians said he is the closest thing he has coached to Marshall Faulk, in terms in how well-rounded he is as an offensive weapon. Larry Fitzgerald also of course returns as the top wide receiver.
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Arizona is expected to be without LBer Deon Bucannon, who underwent ankle surgery over the offseason. Hassan Reddick will get the start in his stead, meanwhile DLB Robert Nkemdiche is battling a calf injury. Detroit will have Ezekiel Ansah back in the lineup, though he missed the whole preseason with a knee injury.
At WR, Kenny Golladay has been limited in practices due to an ankle injury, but he is expected to suit up and play. Overall, this is a game that Detroit needs to start its season right off at home, but Arizona is a really talented offensive team that could push the betting total in this ‘over’ 48 points. With how well Johnson and Carson Palmer keep the engine running on the offensive end it is possible that the Cardinals win this by a full 7-points.
(h/t ESPN; quotes, injury news)