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2015 Regular Season
Preview: Cards @ Lions

Last MInuteNews, Rumors etc.:
Detroit: TE Ebron listed as "Out." DT's Walker and Ngata are ruled "Out" for Sunday (& replaced by Fluellen and Kitchen). Levy will play for the first time this season. Cards: Everyone is good to go (including Ellington). Cards will spend the week between the Detroit and Pittsburgh away games at the Greenbriar resort in southeastern West Virginia.

Setting the Stage:
Cards lost their first game (got manhandled by the Rams in a deceptively close game. Lions are 0 & 4; having lost to San Diego, Minnesota, Denver and the Seahawks. Last week, both teams got hosed by the refs, but moreso the Lions (on MNF no less). Lions have one less day between games.
They have to be grumbling about their slow start and can either (1) come out like caged animals on their home field next week or (2) start to break apart. Cards know they're in a tough division and that any loss could be enough to push them out of the playoffs. Meaningless stat - Detroit hasn't played anyone in the NFC North yet.

Opponent's Last Game
Lions lost 13 - 10 to the Seaahawks. With less than 2-minutes to play and the Lions about to take the lead, Kam Cancellor punched the ball from Calvin Johnson's grasp and (guided by Lion defender KJ Wright - clearly a no-no) the loose ball rolled through the end zone for a TB. Lions sacked Russell Wilson 6 times. Penalty on Wright wasn't called. It would have given Detroit the ball at the one.

First Quarter
Lions received. A 15-yard completion to Calvin Johnson helped move the ball to their 38, where Martin's 62-yard punt went into the end zone. Hawks moved to their own their own 46 in 8 plays before punting. Punt was returned to the Detroit 22. after a 12-yard completion to Abdullah, thw Lions went 3 out and punted from their own 43. Lockett rerturned the punt to the Seattle 26. The two teams exchanged possessioins one more time before the quarter ended with Lions on their own 15..

First Quarter Score: 0 -0.

Second Quarter
Lion's drive stalled at their 46. Lockett returned the punt to the Seattle 33. Two plays after he was sacked for minus-9 yards, Wilson and Kearse hooked up on a short-pass to the left and gained +34 yards. On the very next play, Wilson hit Baldwin over the middlefor a 24-yard TD. Seattle 7 - Lions 0.

TB on the KO. Stafford led the Lions on a 12-play drive capped by a 41 yard Prater FG. Key play ws a 17-yard short pass to L Moore. Seattle 7 - Lions 3.

Lockett returned the KO to the Seattle 21. Wilson took his offense in 9 plays to the Lion 22 where he was sacked for minus-11 yards by Jones and Taylor. Hauschka's 51-yard FG was good. Seattle 10 - Lions 3.

1:00 left till halftime. Abdullah returned the KO to the Lion 38. They punted from their41 five plays later. Seattle ran off one play to end the half. Seattle 10 - Lions 3.

First Half Score: Seattle 10 - Lions 3.

Third Quarter
Deattle received. Tukuafu returned the KO to the Seattle 36. Drive stalled after plays at the Lion 34 where Hauschka was good from 52. Seattle 13 - Lions 3.

Abdullah returned the KO to the Detroit 18. Lions went 3 & out, but Seattle muffed the punt. Lions ball at the Seattle 46. They went 3 & out and punted from midfield . Fair caught at the Seattle 9. Seahawks held onto the ball for 10 plays but had to punt from the Detroit 43. Fair caught by Jones at the Detroit 11. Lions went 3 & out and punted from their own 17. Punt was returned to the Seattle 47. Seahawks ran off one play to end the quarter.

Third Quarter Score: Seattle 13 - Lions 3.

Fourth Quarter
Seattle moved to the Detroit 36, where on 2nd down, Wilson was sacked and fumbled. Detroit ball on their own 45. After a couple of back & forth penalties, Detroit punted from their own 46. fair caught on the Seattle 14.On the fifth play of the possession, wilson was sacked again. Fumble was was scooped up by Reid and returned for a Lion TD. Seattle 13 - Lions 10.

8:32 left. lef. KO was returned to the Seattle 24. Seattle held to 3 & out and punted from their own 33. Ball returned to the Detroit 9. Stafford led his team on what should have been a 11 play TD drive but on the 10th play at the Seattle 11, Stafford connected with Calvin Johnson at the Seattle one, but Chancellor punched the ball out of his grasp and (aided and abetted by Wright) it rolled through the end zone for a Seattle touchback. (Wright should have been penalized and Detroit should have gotten the ball back on the one).

1:45 still left. A fifty yard surprise deep completion to Kearse (on 3rd & 2 at the Seattle 18) iced the game.

Final Score: Seattle 13 - Lions 10.

Cumulative Stats
(Note - May be a game or so out of date)

First Downs: Lions 75 - Opponents 85.

3rd Down Conversions: Lions 16 of 48 - Opponents 23 of 50

4th Down Conversions: Lions 2 for 3 - Opponents 2 for 2

Total Yards Offense: Lions 1,171 - Opponents 1,532

Rushing Yards: Lions 188 (2.7 YPC)- Opponents 446 (3.6 YPC)

Rush/Pass Ratio: Lions 69/163

Receiving - A Brown caught 11 throws for 108 yards

Turnovers - Even-up.

Tackles - Tulloch leads the Lions with 31 tackles followed by Ihedigbo (28), Bynes (25) and Mathis (23).

Sacks - Lion Defense - 10 - Opponents Defense - 6. Ansah is the sackmeister with 4. Taylor is next with 1.5. Rest of the sacks are scattered among 5 other players.

Interceptions: Quin has 2; Slay 1.

Time of Possession: Lions 27:06 - Opponents 32:34

Passing - Stafford completed 65% for1,017 yards, 5 TD's and 5 Interceptions. QB Rating: 79.7

Rushing: Abdullah 115 yards on 34 carries (3.4 YPC). Bell 22 yards on 22 carries (1.1 YPC)

Field Goals: - Prater only attempted 2 field goals (good on both)

Punting: 50% of Martin's punts were inside the 20 or touchbacks (compared to 8 of 14 inside the 20/no touchbacks for opposing punters)

Punt Returns: Jones and Tate averaged 13.3 yards per return (compared to 9.4 for Lion opponents).

Kick Returns: Abdullah is averaging 30.4 yards per return (vs; 22 YPR for Lion opponents).

Rosters/Match-ups

Lion Offense

WR   15 Tate.............16 Moore...........13 TJ Jones        
LT.....71 Reiff.............70 C Robinson
LG....63 Ramirez.......72 Tomlinson                    
C......64 Swanson                  
RG   75 Warford........65 Boggs      
RT....66 Waddle.........77 Lucas              
TE.....87 Pettigrew
TE.....85 Ebron..........90 Wright
WR...81 C Johnson..10 Fuller                                 
QB    09 Stafford......08 Orlofsky
RB....35 J Bell..........25 Riddick.........21 Abdullah........34 Zanner               
FB....46 Burton

Cardinal Defense

DE        93 Campbell..........90 Redding
NT        95 Gunter...............69 X Williams                
DT        92 Rucker..............73 Mauro........72 Stinson                    
SLB      52 Woodley.......... 44 Golden       
ILB       55 Weatherspoon..54 Demens              
ILB       51 Minter...............59 Fua                    
WLB    57 Okafor...............96 Martin.......56 Riddick       
LCB     21 Peterson                   
RCB    25 Powers.............28 Bethel               
SS       36 Bucannon.........22 Jefferson              
FS       32 Mathieu............26 R. Johnson.....29 Clemons 
  

Matchup: Lion Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
Stafford has a strong supporting cast - with Tate and C Johnson at WR, Pettigrew and Ebron at TE and Riddick or Bell at RB. But, with two starting TE's and a FB, they seem to be set up to run more and pass less. Yet their Run-Pass Ratio is a lopsided 69/163. The Lion offensive line seems solid on their left side but more no-name on the right; yet, according to their Team Stats, Detroit has only given up 6 sacks thus far.

Against Seattle, C Johnson led Lion receivers with 7 catches for 56 yards. (Riddick was next with 5 catchers; Tate had 3).

Cardinal are deep in quality pass defenders but (based on Ram results) are far from perfect. Significant weakness is the failure to cover RB's out of the backfield or pay attention to quick, waterbug types that can beat you long. Pass rush is relentless, but no Cardinal defender has stepped up to be "the guy." (You might say it's more of a team effort - with a lineman like Calais Campbell getting pressure on one play; and an outside backer like Golden getting to the QB on the next).

Key Matchups: Peterson vs. Calvin Johnson. Powers or Bethel vs. Tate. Bucannon and Mathieu vs. Pettigrew and Ebron. Minter vs. Riddick.

Matchup: Lion Rushing Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
Strange thing - Lions seem to be configured to run the ball - with a RB, FB and 2 TE's listed on the depth chart as starters; yet they're only running about 25% of the time. (Perhaps the overemphasis on run-blocking players is to compensate for lack of ground pop). Card run defense continued to be stingy (up until the 4Q last Sunday when Gurley ran wild). Cards benched X Williams last week, and the lack of rotational defensive line depth may have been why the Cards seemed to wilt late in the game. (Note - maybe the one-day advantage between games will benefit the Cards in the endurance battle).

Cards.

Key Matchups: The two lines. Minter vs. Abdullah or Bell.


Cardinal Offense

WR1     11 Fitzgerald..13 Jar Brown......10 Golden   
LT         68 Veldheer....79 Sowell                      
LG        76 Iupati.........62 Larsen                     
C          63 Sendlein....53 Shipley                    
RG       61 Cooper                   
RT        70 Massie.......78 Watford.........74 Humphreys                     
TE        85 Fells...........87 Niklas           
WR2    15 M. Floyd.....12 John Brown...14 Nelson              
QB       03 Palmer........05 Stanton.........09 Barkley        
RB       38 Ellington.....27 C Johnson.....31 D Johnson.....30 Taylor,
TE        84 Gresham

Lion Defense

DE......91 J Jones........52 Tapp 
DT......93 Walker..........90 Wright         
DT......92 Ngata...........97 Reid.........99 Cudjo        
DE......94 Ansah..........98 Taylor.......58 Hunt    
OLB...59 Whitehead...53 Van Noy....95 Copeland      
MLB..55 Tulloch..........50 Lewis                
OLB...54 Levy.............57 Bynes       
CB.....23 Slay..............30 Wilson.....28 Diggs   
CB ....31 Mathis..........24 Lawson       
S   ....32 Ihedigbo.......26 Carey     
FS.....27 Quin.............42 Isa Adbul-Quddus

Matchup: Cardinal Passing Attack vs. Ram Pass Defense
Palmer has been consistently sharp when his offensive line gives him time. But when he's under pressure (as in the final three offensive plays vs. St. Louis last week), he'll hurry his throws, his footwork gets a bit funky and he'll overthrow his man. Cardinal receivers have been, by and large, soiid and effective but had trouble getting open in the red zone last week.

Detroit's Front Seven is the strength of its defense, with Ansah their sackmeister andNgata next to him inside. Tulloch is solid up the middle. Their OLB Levy may be the most underrated player on the Lion roster. The Lion back 4 is populated by a group of no-names (though Ihedigbo will lay the wood on anyone daring to enter his territory). Lions made Wilson's life miserable last week, sacking him 6 times times. Veldheer and Massie will have to step up their game this Sunday if they want Carson Palmer to remain upright and safe. (Note - Wilson's problem might have more to do with his key strength (mobility) where he's allowed to roam outside the pocket).

Key Matchups: Cardinal OL vs. Ansah, Ngata & Co. Fitz, Floyd and Jo Brown vs. Slay and Mathis Fells vs. Ihedigbo.

Matchup: Cardinal Running Attack vs. Ram Run Defense
Cards running attack is starting to play up to preseason expectations. C Johnson gained 80+ yards vs. StL. Ellington should be good to go as well.

Lions give up more yards defensively than they gain in the same category offensively, but they do have Ngata clogging up the middle (this may be one of those games where the Cards should test the perimeter with runs to the edge, quick outs and screens.One stat to examine closely is their conversion-rate on third downs

Key Matchups: C Johnson, Ellington and D Johnson vs. Tulloch and Levy. Gresham (as a blocker) vs. Ihedigbo

Special Teams

Lions

       05 Prater                    
K        06 Martin                          
H       06 Martin 
LS     48 Mulbachd                                
KR     21 Abdullah                           
PR     15 Tate

Cardinals

K          07 Catanzaro                             
P          02 Butler                                   
H          02 Butler                             
LS        82 Leach                                  
KR       31 D Johnson.....10 Golden          
PR       14 Nelson...........10 Golden

Matchup: Niner Special Teams vs. Cardinal Special Teams
Lions enjoy enough of a yardage edge both in the kick return and punt return games to win close contests.
(They enjoy a 13.3 to 9.4 YPR edge in punt returns and 30.4 to 20.0 returning kicks).

Key matchups: Bethel and Campbell vs. Abdullah and Tate. Same as last game - Catanzaro vs. the back of the end zone. Butler vs. the sideline.

Coaching
SF: The Lions have a new HC in Jim Caldwell. OC is Joe Lombardi; DC is Teryl Austin and ST Dude is Joe Marciano. Question of the week has to be whether, at 0 & 4, the Lions will be punch drunk playing the role of consistent loser or whether they'll rise up and play like cornered rats.

AZ: Bruce Arians had a "bad hair day" (or bad scalp day) last week making a few questionable calls down the homestretch vs, StL. He comes across as having an "old school" coaching style butis unafraid of new approaches or to stretch the play-calling envelope. HIs motto: "No risk-it/no biscuit." A fun guy to follow - and backs it up with solid coaching fundamentals (he has a huge staff of teaching-coaches from diverse backgrounds) and a record of proven success. But he finally lost his first game of the season and, at 3 & 1, he and his players must face the challenge of rebounding from its first loss to regain their mojo.

Last Word
The Lions are frustrated at 0 & 4. The Cards have had to deal with the impact of their first loss. The one thing we haven't learned about the Cardinals during this early part of its schedule is how it deals with adversity. Will it choke? Will it question itself? Will it brood? Or will it come roaring back with a vengeance. Regardless of all the locker room rhetoric, each team deals with its setbacks in different ways, and we won't know how the Cardinals deal with its speed bumps until they go out on the field Sunday. Sic 'em!


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Copyright 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 03/25/2013