Detroit Lions (0-2) at Arizona Cardinals (2-0)
One of the big early surprises of this young season has been the play of Arizona’s defense, which has the 5th lowest first down rate allowed in the league at 33.88%, after finishing 30th in first down rate allowed with similar personnel in 2019. The Cardinals have an impressive offense with Kenyan Drake and DeAndre Hopkins giving them a pair of offensive playmakers around quarterback Kyler Murray, who has taken a step forward himself this season, so if their defense can continue playing like this, this could be a dangerous team.
I don’t expect this level of defensive player to continue though. On paper, they are much more in line with how they played last season and they haven’t faced a tough schedule thus far, facing a banged up 49ers offense and a Washington team that has one of the worst offenses in the league. At the very least, I don’t expect the Cardinals to keep up their league leading 26.1% third down conversion rate allowed, over a 20% improvement from their 2019 defense.
The Cardinals schedule gets tougher on their defense this week with the Lions coming to town. Detroit’s offense hasn’t been that impressive thus far this season, but they get top wide receiver Kenny Golladay back from injury this week, which is huge, as he’s gone for a 75/1226/9 slash line in his last 16 games with Matt Stafford, and they could be healthier on the offensive line this week as well. The Cardinals shouldn’t have much problem moving the ball against this Detroit defense, but this could easily be an evenly matched shootout. With reduced homefield advantage for the Cardinals, I have this calculated at Arizona -3, so we’re getting some line value with the Lions at 5. There isn’t enough here for this to be worth betting, but the Lions should be the pick for pick ‘em purposes, as the most likely outcome of this game is the Cardinals winning by a field goal.
Arizona Cardinals 34 Detroit Lions 31
Pick against the spread: Detroit +5