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Friday Five: Cardinals At Lions


**Desperate Lions are dangerous Lions

One thing the Lions' crushing loss Monday night in Seattle – whether or not the call was missed, the reality is Calvin Johnson fumbled away at the very least a trip to overtime and probably a win – did was keep Detroit winless. In a lot of ways that's not ideal for the Cardinals, who must face a team at home that are not as bad as their 0-4 record would indicate. The first quarter Sunday will be crucial. If the Cardinals can jump out early there, the Lions – and their fans – might not be able to weather the bad news. But figure the Lions to be anxious to finally get that first win, giving something the Cards must be prepared for in the first 15 minutes as well.

The end zone is your friend

The Cardinals moved the ball against the Rams. Quite a bit actually. They only punted once, they had no three-and-out series. But they couldn't get the ball in the end zone save for their final score, and given five total trips into the red zone, that's a percentage that will get you beat. As Carson Palmer said, nobody expects the Cardinals to convert at 90 percent in the red zone, which is where the Cards had been after three games. But if they can get to 50 percent weekly, they will be in very good shape, and they need to get back to that kind of reasonable percentage in Detroit.

Three running backs are quite the carousel

Andre Ellington will play this week. Chris Johnson has been something of a revelation with his 302 yards rushing and 4.4 yards per carry average. And David Johnson continues to be able to make plays both running and receiving. Not everyone can get the ball a lot. How will Bruce Arians break up the work? Before Ellington got hurt, he was collecting most of the offensive snaps. Now that he's back, Johnson and Johnson have shown they deserve a bigger piece of the pie. As Arians said, it's a nice problem to have.

Plug the gaps, and get back to one-dimension

Arians broke down some of the run-defense issues from the Rams' game, and he noted one play where Kevin Minter spun off a block and got out of his gap, and another where the defenders failed to pinch a gap and instead rushed the passer. Those are only two, but the fact was Todd Gurley piled up 102 of his 146 yards rushing on three carries – that's how important any singular mistake can be. The Lions are the worst rushing team in the league (47 yards a game) and the Cardinals need to make sure they keep them there.

Start the time away the right way

With six of the next eight games on the road, the Cardinals have to find a way to win away from University of Phoenix Stadium. There's no reason one of those can come in Detroit. The Lions are struggling, and their defense has lost some key pieces to a better unit that hasn't even been good enough to beat the Cardinals in recent years. Next week will be spent in West Virginia prepping for a game in Pittsburgh. It'll be a lot easier spending a week in a strange bed for everyone if they can begin with a win.

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