Arizona Cardinals 0-0 (0-0 ATS) at Detroit Lions 0-0 (0-0 ATS)
When and Where: Sunday, Sept. 9, Ford Field, Detroit, Mich. 1:00pm EDT (FOX)
Spread: Arizona -1.5; Total: 48
Each squad picked up two victories in the preseason, and with Arizona participating in the Hall of Fame game, they had an opportunity to get five exhibitions in. On Sunday, they play for keeps as the preseason is over and the real thing begins. Detroit will be looking for a return trip to the playoffs in 2017 while Arizona will be hoping to improve on season that saw them finish below .500. Despite playing in separate divisions, these franchises have been around a long time and as such, have met 64 times on the Gridiron. The Lions lead the series 31-28-5, but the Cards have won seven in a row with last Detroit victory coming in 2005.
Cardinals Coming Along
Arizona did not exactly impress a year ago. The squad would ultimately finish 7-8-1, which was good enough to finish in second place in the NFC West, but not good enough to earn a playoff bid. Carson Palmer is not getting any younger, but Blaine Gabbert has been brought in to sit behind him. Before you dismiss Gabbert as somebody that could overtake the aging Palmer, keep in mind that he began last season as the starting quarterback in San Francisco. The top target, as always is Larry Fitzgerald, who is entering his 14th season in the league.
Palmer had an ordinary season for him in 2016. The veteran threw for 4,233 yards and 26 touchdowns, but also fumbled the ball 14 times to go along with 14 interceptions. Fitzgerald had 1,023 of those yards off of 107 receptions but only found the endzone six times. If this aging duo can rediscover their youth then the Cards could put together a successful season. Either way, both should feel fresh for the season opener. The real question will be how their bodies hold up as the season progresses.
Lions Looking to Light it Up
Detroit finished 9-7 a year ago, becoming the last team to slip into the NFC Playoffs. They would suffer a defeat in the opening round to Seattle, but considering how little was expected of the squad once Calvin “Megatron” Johnson suddenly retired before the beginning of the 2016 season, it was still considered something to build upon. Matthew Stafford has been firmly at the helm for several years now, and the 29-year-0ld UGA alum will be depended on heavily during the 2017 season if the Lions hope to contend.
While Stafford lost one of his top targets in former Cardinal Anquan Boldin, the team did make some decent offseason additions like cornerback DJ Hayden, and defensive end Cornelius Washington. They drafted Florida Gator Jarrad Davis at linebacker and Teez Tabor out of Florida was also picked up through the draft and should team up with Hayden to make a formidable secondary. Tackle Taylor Decker was placed on the physically unable to perform list on Saturday.
- 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games in September
- 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games in Week 1
- 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games in September.
- 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Lions are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 vs. NFC.
- Lions are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games on fieldturf
It is a little surprising that the Cardinals would enter week one as a slight favorite heading into the Lions’ Den (see what I did there?) of a playoff team from a season ago. Still, the oddsmakers know the same thing we all do by now . . . the Lions are rarely the kind of team you can count on. They just strike you as a squad that will win some when they should not, and lose some they should win. Look for them to lose this one too.
Pick: Arizona -1.5
Fourty-eight is a large over/under, especially for Week 1 when most offenses are still getting their kinks out. Defenses usually have the advantage early on in the season, especially in today’s world of free agency when you’re playing with new players on a yearly basis. Both of these offenses, however, are capable of lighting it up, and over trends well here. The Over is 7-0 in the Cards last seen games, 6-0 in their last six on field turf, and 6-0 in their last six vs. the NFC. The over has also hit in the last six Week 1 games for the Lions. Those trends are just too good to pass up.