Arizona Cardinals vs. Detroit Lions
Date and Time: Sunday, September 10, 2017, 1 p.m. ET
Location: Ford Field
Week 1 Opening NFL Odds at BookMaker.eu: Lions -2.5, O/U 48
Cardinals vs. Lions TV Coverage: FOX
Heading into last season, the Arizona Cardinals were expected to build upon a fantastic previous year campaign that saw their hopes and dreams of returning to the Super Bowl dashed in the NFC title game against what proved to be a better Carolina Panthers outfit. Unfortunately, Larry Fitzgerald and company failed to live up to lofty preseason expectations and struggled their way to an ugly 7-8-1 record and second place finish in the putrid NFC West.
With expectations now a bit curved, the Cardinals will look to put their best foot forward and return to being one of the premiere teams in the NFC. As it stands, the Seahawks are heavy favorites to win the division ( -410 ) with Arizona right behind them at +310. The pieces are still in place for the Cardinals to be a viable threat, but it’s going to need its veterans on both sides of the ball to make it a reality. With David Johnson leading the offense and Patrick Peterson the defense, this club has a real shot of pulling a complete 180.
Megatron decided to hang up his cleats at the beginning of last season because he was locked into his contract and sick and tired of his team’s overall futility. A surprising move considering Detroit went to the postseason the previous year. I guess he felt the offseason moves that were made weren’t good enough to get back. Be that as it may, the Lions turned out to be one of the more surprising teams in the NFC in posting a 9-7 record that was good enough to get the franchise back into the playoffs for the second time in the last three seasons. Take that Calvin Johnson!
The team’s overall success stemmed from a defense that gave up its fair share of yardage ( 356.6 YPG ), but only allowed opposing offenses to turn that yardage into an average of just 22.6 points per game ( No. 13 ). Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin’s unit allowed for the Lions offense to get away with a scoring attack that averaged just 20.7 points per game ( No. 22 ) and only 332.5 yards per game ( No. 24 ). Due to the ground attack being nonexistent with Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick succumbing to injuries, it allowed opposing defenses to clamp down forcing Detroit to earn every yard it gained.
Matchup to Watch
Detroit ranked in the bottom third of the league defending the run last season, and it will now have to deal with a back that went for over 2,000 all-purpose yards a season ago. David Johnson is going to be a bear for this Lions defense to contain, and if the Lions are unable to keep him in check, it will allow Carson Palmer to go HAM in this matchup. Palmer enters the season looking to make a statement after regressing terribly a year ago. His wide receiver corps is the healthiest it’s been in quite some time, and he should have ample time to find his targets with Detroit unable to muster much of a pass rush a season ago and taking a leap of faith to rectify that situation in the offseason. Should Ezekiel Ansah and company fail to churn out a steady pass rush, Detroit’s defense will once again have a tough time getting off the field.
Cardinals vs. Lions Picks
This game has seen one of the bigger line corrections occur at most top-rated sportsbooks. Detroit initially opened just under a field goal favorite, but now finds itself installed short 2-point home underdogs against an Arizona squad that only won three of its eight played road games a season ago. Nearly 69 percent of the action booked for this game is riding the visitors, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see this line head back down to a pick ‘em considering the Lions come off a season in which they held serve in front of the hometown faithful six times through eight tries. They also won and covered the two time times they closed as home dogs.
Even so, I’m in the same boat as the betting public for this matchup. Arizona is the healthier of the two teams and has less question marks on both sides of the ball. The Cardinals closed the season winning each of their final two road games, and I foresee them building upon the recent dominance of the Lions ( 5-0 SU L/5 meetings ).
Cardinals vs. Lions Week 1 ATS Pick: Cardinals -2 at BookMaker.eu
Cardinals vs. Lions Score Prediction: Cardinals 31 – Lions 21