Week 11 Preview: Cardinals vs. Lions

Two of the NFL’s top teams square off this week as the Arizona Cardinals (8-1) host the Detroit Lions (7-2) on Sunday afternoon. Find out Sunday’s key matchups, a betting guide and a prediction of who’ll win inside.


Two of the NFL’s top teams square off this week as the Arizona Cardinals (8-1) host the Detroit Lions (7-2) on Sunday afternoon.

The Cardinals enter this weekend’s matchup on a five-game winning streak but will be without the services of QB Carson Palmer for the remainder of the year. Drew Stanton, who started three outings earlier this season, will take the reins under center.

Meanwhile, the Lions enter on a four-game winning streak, although they’ve won their past three games by a total of six points. Detroit needed late fourth-quarter rallies in all three wins, scoring the go ahead points in each contest with less than two minutes left.

Key Matchups

Drew Stanton vs. Lions defense

We could single out Stanton against Detroit’s stellar group of defensive linemen here, but ultimately Stanton will have to navigate through the entire Lions defense. Stanton, who began his career in Detroit, has only started seven games during his eight-year NFL career but he filled in admirably earlier this season when Palmer missed three games with a nerve injury. This time is slightly different, though, as Palmer is out for the season with a torn ACL and the pressure will shift to Stanton to lead the Cardinals for the duration of the year.

Through the first 10 weeks of the season, Detroit boasts the NFL’s top defensive unit. It’s an extremely balanced unit ranking third in pass defense (allowing 212 yards per game) while ranking second in run defense (allowing 71 yards per game). Stanton will need plenty of help from his talented receiving corps and even more important will be the play of RB Andre Ellington. Ellington’s versatility will need to be on full display Sunday to keep the Lions pass rush off balance.

Matthew Stafford vs. Cardinals secondary

Detroit hasn’t been able to run the ball consistently this year while Arizona specializes in stopping things upfront. That leaves the outcome of this game in the hands of Stafford, which is nothing new. Detroit is ranked 31st in the NFL averaging under 78 yards per game on the ground. Both Reggie Bush and Joique Bell have been banged up at times with neither being able to get on track. The Cardinals allowed only 70 yards rushing a week ago against the St. Louis Rams and are the only team in the league thus far to hold Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray under 100 yards.

That leads to the all important matchup between Stafford and the Cardinals secondary, which has been shaky at times this year. WR Calvin Johnson is nearly impossible to stop so Arizona would be wise to focus on limiting his contributions rather than trying to eliminate them altogether. CB Patrick Peterson has been criticized for his play this season but he broke out with two interceptions and a touchdown last week against the Rams. That level of play will need to continue this week.

Betting Guide (Line: Arizona -2)


Cardinals are 19-7 ATS in their last 26 games overall.
Cardinals are 16-5 ATS in their last 21 vs. NFC.
Cardinals are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 home games.
Cardinals are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games as a favorite.


Lions are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
Lions are 2-5 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
Lions are 10-22-1 ATS in their last 33 games in November.
Lions are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games on grass.


As they have been for the entire season, all of the trends point towards Arizona in this matchup. The Cardinals have been almost unbeatable at home over the past two seasons while the Lions have struggled on the road. Although the loss of Palmer is a significant one, Stanton appears poised to pick up the slack and lead Arizona into the playoffs. Stafford always gives the Lions a chance to make a late comeback but a big play by the Cardinals defense will seal the deal in a game that lives up to its billing.

Pick: Arizona -2

Final Score: Arizona 24 Detroit 20

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