Cardinals vs. Lions: Preview, score prediction for Week 1

DETROIT MI - OCTOBER 11: Carson Palmer
DETROIT MI - OCTOBER 11: Carson Palmer /

Arizona Cardinals vs. Detroit Lions

It’ll be a tale of two different stories for two organizations searching for their first Super Bowl victory. The Arizona Cardinals, coming off a 7-8-1 season, enter the season with urgency to make the big game with Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald‘s careers coming to a close.

The Detroit Lions, just off of a 9-7 season that finished with a 26-6 defeat to the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card Round of the postseason, are still trying to find their way under quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Both organizations have realistic hopes for the postseason. Remember, the Cardinals are just a year removed from playing in the NFC Championship game. And the Lions just signed Stafford to the richest deal in NFL history, proving they have confidence he’s the man to lead them all the way.


The first step for both teams to make a run begins this weekend. Both have their strengths and weaknesses and their own X-factors that will help them start the season with a clean 1-0 record.

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For the Cardinals it all starts with running back David Johnson. He rolled through defenses last year and had the Cardinals been better he would’ve made a stronger case for MVP. As you know, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan walked away with the award but it was Johnson’s 2,100+ all-purpose yards that made Arizona’s season respectable.

On Sunday he’ll need to prove he’s ready to compete after a scary knee injury knocked him out of Week 17. Arizona needs to control the clock and keep Stafford and the Lions offense off the field in order to have a chance to win.

Coincidentally, the Lions need a strong effort from Stafford and their defense. Containing Johnson is their first priority; if Palmer is forced to pass it plays into Detroit’s favor. While Johnson is a factor in the passing game, it’s the rest of Arizona’s arsenal that should have Detroit licking their chops.

What it’ll come down to is who’s forced to pass when the game’s on the line. If Detroit has to drop back it’ll be up to Chandler Jones and Markus Golden applying the pressure and that’s where I give the edge to the Cardinals.

The Lions new left tackle, Greg Robinson, will be tasked with containing Jones on Sunday. In week four last season he had a horrible outing, allowing two sacks to Jones. On the other side of the ball it’ll be Ricky Wagner, a free-agent signee this offseason, tasked with blocking Golden. Wagner allowed three sacks all last season as a Baltimore Raven.

Score prediction

It’s going to be a fun game to watch. It’ll either turn into a shoot-out or Johnson will control the game by way of doing what he does great, which is to make defenses look silly. Even though Stafford set a record with fourth-quarter comeback victories in 2016, I’m giving the Cardinals the edge thanks to a late-game turnover. Cardinals win, 30-27.

Next: NFL 2017: 20 Bold predictions for Week 1

Looking forward to Week 2, the Cardinals will stay on the road to take on the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are without quarterback Andrew Luck in this but may be back for the Sept. 17 contest. On the other side, the Lions will hit the road for a Monday night game against Eli Manning and the New York Giants.