Week 1: Lions vs Cardinals Predictions

It’s a brand-spanking-new season, folks! That means that your favorite Detroit Lion Lowdown writers will again thrill you with their savvy and uncannily accurate pregame predictions! Check back every week and find yourself enthralled!

The first week is always the most difficult. How do you know what kind of teams will actually take the field? Last year, most fans and beat writers thought that they had a clue of what to expect from the Detroit Lions. Then the New York Jets thoroughly scrubbed those thoughts out with a wire brush.

Just take a deep breath and let the last fragments of those memories go.

Bruce Walker (@smoke25):

This year, the Lions might as well have moved to Missouri from the sports world perspective. The attitude of, “I’ll believe it when I see it” is pervasive enough so that the team would fit right in to the “Show me” state.

Make no mistake though, this is not your Lions team from last year.

There are reports that some 40% of the roster is new this year. There is a new Offensive Coordinator in Darrell Bevell. Several position groups have been overhauled or upgraded — most notably the tight ends.

The team appears to be focused, fit, and energized for the upcoming season.

The Arizona Cardinals are expected to struggle at corner after seeing All-Pro Patrick Peterson suspended for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Then Robert Alford placed on IR due to a broken leg.

The Cards, who had first dibs on all waiver cuts across the NFL, picked Keven Peterson off the Rams cut list and Special Teams ace Charles Washington from Detroit in an effort to bolster their secondary. Peterson spent last year on IR with a torn ACL while Washington finished the year on IR due to a hamstring injury.

Meanwhile, Arizona is sporting the first pick in this year’s draft in quarterback Kyler Murray. An inch shorter than Russell Wilson and arguable more elusive in the pocket, Murray will provide a significant containment challenge to Detroit’s defensive line.

NFL.com describes Murray as having a “live arm”. His mechanics are inconsistent, resulting in poor throws.

Star running back David Johnson needs to have a good game in order to open up the passing show for Murray. Fortunately, that need plays into the strength of the Lions defense. Detroit finished last season ranked 10th in yards given up per game. They were even better against the run after Damon Harrison arrived mid-season.

The Lions have fewer weaknesses across their roster than I can remember. Matt Patricia is showing the ability to adapt to the needs of the players. The team as a whole appears to have “bought in” to the complex concepts that the coach has brought in.

Detroit is the favorite to win on the road. They believe that they have a team that can compete for the NFC North crown. For that to occur, the Lions must start by winning games that they are favored in. And they will. Starting with this one.

Detroit Lions 30 — Arizona Cardinals 17

James Gullett (@Gullett_james):

The Lions will face a notoriously difficult team in recent matchups when playing out in the desert. I do think however this game will not be close.

Between injuries and suspensions for the Cardinals, their defensive backs are beyond thin. The Lions said they want to adjust their weekly offensive game plan to hit the weaknesses in the opponent’s defense. Many have expected an offense loaded with two tight end sets and a ground and pound mentality, I believe the OC Bevell will send an air raid at the Cardinals defense.

As long as the offensive line holds up, I don’t really see a way that the Cardinals depleted secondary can cover Golladay, Jones, James, Amendola, and Hockenson.

In addition to that, Patrica’s defense is in year two and the players won’t have to learn the playbook on the fly. The Lions defensive line is much better than any line they have had in the last five years, making them too much to handle for a rookie QB making his first start.

Losing starting middle linebacker Jarrad Davis does not help the defense, but it won’t hurt as much as people think with Lions second round pick LB Jahlani Tavai able to fill in when called upon.

Detroit Lions 24 — Arizona Cardinals 9

Logan Lamorandier (@LLamorandier):

I wouldn’t call this a must-win game, but the Lions have to come away victorious if they have playoff aspirations. In a division where all four NFC North teams could win between 8-10 games, the Lions have to take full advantage of winnable matchups.

The strength of this Lions team is their defensive front while the weakness of the Cardinals is their offensive line. It will be very difficult for Cardinals RB David Johnson to get in a rhythm. Without a run game, the college style offense will turn to the uber-athletic first overall pick, QB Kyler Murray. That should be good news for the Lions.

In the preseason, Murray looked very much like a learning rookie. Maybe HC Kliff Kingsbury has some tricks up his sleeve for the regular season, but I can’t imagine a complete transformation overnight.

As a concern, it does appear the Lions will be without LB Jarrad Davis who was instrumental last year in the success of shutting down mobile quarterbacks. Davis was often the QB spy when the defense was in man coverage. There isn’t another starting linebacker on the team that can match Davis’ athleticism, so look for the Lions to run more zone to keep Murray in front of them. Given the crafty slot receivers the Cardinals possess, LB Christian Jones and LB Jahlani Tavai might have their hands full covering the middle of the field. I would expect plenty of sub packages on defense.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Lions will likely try to control the clock and take an occasional deep-shot against a depleted Cardinals cornerback group. They will put up some points, but nothing massive or overly aggressive — that’s not Patricia’s style. This game will be more about the Lions defense making stops in my opinion.

I fully expect a win from the Lions and if they don’t… I’m not even going to think about a loss right now. Football is back!

Detroit Lions 23 — Arizona Cardinals 16

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