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Arizona Cardinals at Detroit Lions: Three Keys To Success

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Yeah, that's right - three keys. I think the Cardinals only need to follow the three keys below in order to beat the lowly Lions.

This Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals(8-5) face off with the Detroit Lions(2-11) in a situation that has become a must-win game for the red birds. The Cardinals are fresh off a disappointing Monday night game, in which they turned the ball over 7 times and were surprisingly limited to 9 points. They need to win 2 out of their next 3 games and need a 49ers loss to clinch the NFC West.

The Lions are experiencing another losing season/rebuilding year and are at the mercy of a rookie coach and quarterback. There is light at the end of the tunnel though, and it's only a matter of time before the Lions are back at mediocrity. Here are the three keys to success on Sunday.

1. Stop the Calvin Johnson. He's the Lions best player and many consider him to have the best all-around skill set of any receiver in the league. His stats may not show it this year but Johnson has faced injuries and his fair share of poor quarterback play and has still produced at a pro bow level. The Cardinals were burned by the other Johnson earlier this year and to keep it from reoccurring, they will need to ensure that there are no breakdowns in coverage. The Cardinals fastest defensive back, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, will likely cover Johnson with added safey help over the top.

2. Play the Lions like they are a 2-11 team. Winning is always satisfying, but the Cardinals certainly should not squeak out a win. They have the Lions beat in every NFL category, so there's certainly not room for any excuses this week. The Cardinals have managed to keep opposing teams in games this year and if they want to make a statement to the league they'll keep their foot on the gas on Sunday. The Lions have been obliterated by some teams this year(see last week) and that shouldn't stop just because the Cardinals are in town.

3. Get healthy and acquainted. The Cardinals may likely use the next stretch of games to rest certain players in hopes to become healthy for the playoffs. Most notably, injuries have hit Mike Gandy, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Ware, Kurt Warner, and Neil Rackers. Fitzgerald suffered a knee injury on Monday but an MRI revealed it was only a bone contusion and knee sprain. Kurt Warner has been nursing a hip pointer the last two weeks and may rest if the Cardinals have a comfortable lead on Sunday. Gandy and Rackers have already been ruled out the game. As a result of the injuries, Mike Nugent, Jeremy Bridges, and Rashad Johnson were pushed into more prominent roles on the team and must become more familiar with their respective positions the next two weeks.

On a final note, the Cardinals should obviously hand the ball off on Sunday and not be scared of fumbling. Limiting the rushing game may only discourage the Cardinals two young backs at this point.

In all reality, this is a game the Cardinals should win at ease. With the 49ers essentially on life-support, they have yet to be eliminated from playoff-contention. If the Cardinals want to take some pressure off themselves, now would be the moment pull the plug. What are your keys to the game and why?