As we are just a couple of of days away from the Arizona Cardinals taking on the Detroit Lions in Week 5, an important NFC battle, let us hear from Jeremy Reisman again from Pride Of Detroit. He joined me on our podcast and we talked about a number of things. But I saved some questions for our traditional "5 questions" article and game preview.
Here is what Reisman answered:
The talk coming from the Cardinals this week is how the Lions are not really an 0-4 team at all and how talented is it. How good or bad is this team really, based on what you have seen over four weeks?
While I certainly don't think this is a bottom five team in the league, the Lions really haven't shown any signs of being in the top half of the league either. The offense has been a major disappointment, while the defense has taken a noticeable step back from last season. Overall, I think the defense is still above average, but the struggles of this offense are real, and a huge burden on the entire squad.
Why exactly is the offense struggling so much with all the talent on the roster?
The offensive troubles can be linked back to the offensive line. The Lions have had a patchwork line all season, with right tackle LaAdrian Waddle coming off of surgery to repair his torn ACL and Larry Warford dealing with a high ankle sprain. Detroit has invested a lot of draft picks in their offensive line, but it is just not gelling at this point, and, in fact, Pro Football Focus ranked them as the worst offensive line in the league. As a result, the Lions have the worst running game in the league, and Matthew Stafford is constantly on the run. The Lions can't utilize all of their talented skill players if they can't get them the ball effectively.
If you were to play coach, how would you game plan for the Detroit offense and defense?
My gameplan on offense would be to get the ball out quickly and use slants and short outs as your running game early. The Lions have a multitude of shifty receivers (Golden Tate, and Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick out of the backfield) that can add a good amount of YAC. Hopefully that will open up some passes over the top, and potentially even give way for a running game (doubtful).
On defense, the Lions saw a lot of success last week utilizing the zone blitz.The Lions have a talented defensive coordinator in Teryl Austin, so even though Detroit's defensive line is beaten up, he'll find a way to bring pressure. The Lions haven't had much of an issue stopping the run against players not named Adrian Peterson.
Looking at matchups, which ones will be the most intriguing, which ones look like the most favorable for Detroit and which look like to be the least favorable?
Calvin Johnson vs. Patrick Peterson is essentially as close to Jordan vs. Bird as you can get. That matchup never fails to entertain. However, the best matchup for the Lions in this game is their run defense against the Cardinals running game. While Arizona has a decent running back by committee, the Lions pride themselves on stopping the run, and with DeAndre Levy likely back this week, the Lions will likely look even better. On the other hand, I don't like the Lions' chances to be able to run the ball at all. They have been terrible at it so far this year (47.0 rushing yards per game, 2.7 yards per carry), and the Cardinals also boast a great run defense. I expect both teams to air it out on Sunday, giving the Megatron vs. Peterson matchup even more intrigue.
Looking from the outside, what do you see in a 3-1 Cardinals team?
I'm not sure what I see in the Cardinals yet. On the surface, it looks like a team whose offense is finally catching up to their talented defense to create an extremely well-rounded team. However, when I dig a little deeper, I realize this is a team that has yet to be truly challenged. All three of their wins came against 1-3 teams (and some pretty bad 1-3 teams). But they have done what good teams do: beat bad teams, and sometimes quite decisively. I think this is definitely a good team, but I hesitate to call them great.
Game prediction: 27-13 Cardinals (Check out my preview for a full breakdown)