Five things to watch for Sunday when the Cardinals play the Lions at State Farm Stadium:
And then there were none
A moment of silence, please, for the 2018 starting offensive line of the Arizona Cardinals. It slowly died, piece by piece, beginning Aug. 4 when center A.Q. Shipley tore his ACL in the team’s Red & White practice at training camp, and was finally gone when left tackle D.J. Humphries – who had already missed two games with a bad knee – was put on injured reserve a day after guard Mike Iupati. There is no combination left to put out there (and there still likely will be different combinations) that will include a projected starter. Korey Cunningham will be the left tackle. Mason Cole will remain the center. Oday Aboushi, who has been fairly solid and has a few years in the league, should be a guard. Right now, rookie Colby Gossett is the left guard and Will Holden is the right tackle, but after signing guys with some experience this week – Rees Idhiambo and, more notably, Joe Barksdale – things can definitely move around over the last four games. The Lions don’t have a great pass rush, but with so much unknown about the guys protecting Josh Rosen, it’s hard to know how this will evolve.
Star Trek aside, Kirk out
Bottom line, the receiving corps couldn’t really afford to lose either of its top two guys. Larry Fitzgerald is fine, and everyone saw how important he was at the end of the Packers game. But rookie Christian Kirk was so important too. What this offense will look like – what it has a chance to produce – through the air will be interesting to watch. More targets for Fitz are possible, but more likely, this will give defenses even less reason not to bracket Fitzgerald. Can Chad Williams finally make a push? Can undrafted rookies Trent Sherfield and/or Jalen Tolliver solidify their chances for 2019 with some numbers? The last three games, Rosen has completed a total of 32 passes, so it’s not like the passing offense was prodigious anyway. Without Kirk, it will be even more difficult to post numbers.
First Rodgers, now Stafford?
There was some help, with the Packers dropping a couple of passes, but then again, the Cardinals dropped a pair of interceptions. Overall, the Cardinals made life pretty uncomfortable for Aaron Rodgers last week, and that was in Green Bay. Matthew Stafford, who is already dealing with a balky back, comes to a place where he has not historically played well. The Lions don’t exactly have a great receiving corps themselves. If the Cardinals do their job against the run, which they did last week against Packers running back Aaron Jones, there is no reason they can’t put up another sub-20 on the scoreboard.
Fitzgerald finally gets the mark as the best with one team
I don’t want to sound presumptuous, but it’s safe to say Larry Fitzgerald will get the one reception he needs to break his tie with Jerry Rice for most catches ever with one franchise. He went into a home game three weeks ago against the Raiders needing eight and it was thought he might get it done then – otherwise the record-breaker would come on the road. Alas, games in L.A. and Green Bay only got Fitz tied. But Fitz will finally break it at State Farm Stadium – he has made at least one catch in 223 straight games – although it likely won’t be as dramatic as his game-saving 32-yarder from last week.
A question of momentum
What, exactly, does a win at Lambeau Field do for the Cardinals? They did not play the perfect game, but they played well, and the next two games come against teams struggling mightily, just like the Packers – the Lions, and then a road trip to Atlanta. State Farm Stadium has not been the home-field advantage the Cardinals should have made it; they have one win there and the last outing was a disappointing defeat to the reeling Raiders. There were also a host of injuries this week that have drastically impacted the roster. Still, the win was encouraging, not just because of the score but the way it happened.