The Arizona Cardinals are looking forward to their home opener tomorrow afternoon when they welcome the Detroit Lions to University of Phoenix Stadium In Glendale.
The Red Birds are coming off a tough loss to the St. Louis Rams in their season opener while the Lions opened their 2013 campaign with a home triumph over NFC North rival Minnesota.
Let's take a look at this week's matchup in what looks like a high-scoring contest:
Detroit (1-0)Reggie Bush and "Megatron", wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Mix those weapons in with strong-armed quarterback Matthew Stafford and you have the makings of what should be shootout in the desert.
Bush has been bothered this week by groin and knee issues but he should be good to go. He made a superb debut for the Lions last week, rushing for 91 yards and adding 101 receiving yards and a TD. He is very dangerous and can go the distance on any play. He gives Stafford a viable checkdown receiver as well so Bush must be accounted for at all times.
It should be fascinating to see Johnson match up with cornerback Patrick Peterson. That should be worth the price of admission itself. Johnson had just four catches for 37 yards last week but burned the Red Birds for 10 receptions for 121 yards last season. Johnson is going to want to show everyone that he is the premier WR in the league so look for Stafford to go to Megatron early and often.
“At the end of the day, I want to be the best cornerback in the game, " Peterson told azcentral.com "If you are the best, you guard the best. He (Johnson)can do it all. He’s a physical type guy. He’s big, he’s fast. He can run after the catch. He has nice, strong hands."
The Cardinals tamed the Lions, 38-10, last season in Glendale and hope to duplicate that feat in their long-awaited home opener in the desert.
Quarterback Carson Palmer was excellent in his Arizona debut last week against the Rams, throwing for 327 yards and two touchdowns. Larry Fitzgerald has been dealing with a hamstring issue this week but should play. He looked like his old self again last week with two TD receptions. It's nice having a real QB throwing to him again. Palmer should have success exploiting a mediocre Lions secondary by also throwing to Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts, who both enjoyed nice efforts in Week One.
Tight end Rob Housler is expected to miss the game with a high ankle sprain. The Red Birds will need to have their attack balanced with a fine rushing attack, led by Rashard Mendenhall. The former Steeler gained 60 yards in his Arizona debut last week and will need help from Alfonso Smith, who is a fine blocking back in blitz pickup. Rookies Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington are not expected to see much action.
A huge key in the game will be protecting Palmer from the likes of Detroit's Nick Fairley and the controversial Ndamukong Suh. Palmer was sacked four times against the Rams, one causing him to lose a fumble. The Red Birds must do a better job of protecting the USC product if he is to be effective. Offensive tackle Levi Brown, who allowed three sacks last week, has to improve dramatically.
Prediction: In what should be a high-scoring shootout, the Cardinals are the pick here to notch their first victory of the season. Palmer throws for over 300 yards again and Fitzgerald hauls in his third TD reception of the young season. Arizona 27, Detroit 23.
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