Kickoff: 2 p.m. at University of Phoenix Stadium
TV/Announcers: Fox (Ch. 10)/Ron Pitts and Terry Donahue
Radio: KMVP (860 AM)
Records: Cardinals 1-8, Lions 2-7
Tickets: The game is sold out.
Series: The Lions hold a 31-19-3 edge in the all-time series. The teams are meeting for the sixth straight year and the eighth time in nine seasons. The Lions have won the past three matchups — all in Detroit — including last year’s 29-21 victory.
Line: Cardinals by 3
CARDINALS KEYS TO VICTORY
1. Marvelous Matt: Matt Leinart doesn’t have to be spectacular. He just needs to be solid, which the rookie quarterback hasn’t been. It would do wonders for the confidence of both Leinart and the offense if he could lead a firstquarter touchdown drive.
2. Keeping up with the Jones: Lions running back Kevin Jones has had little trouble breaking tackles and shredding the Cards’ defense the past two seasons; Arizona better make sure that doesn’t happen again.
3. It starts with the mirror: As soon as the Cardinals’ players realize that it has taken a team effort to lose eight straight, they will be better off — because everyone needs to understand they could be playing better.
Arizona PROBABLE: WR Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring); FB Obafemi Ayanbadejo (fibula); DT Darnell Dockett (toe); C Nick Leckey (quadricep).
Detroit QUESTIONABLE: DT Shaun Cody (toe); FB Sean McHugh (knee); G Blaine Saipaia (chest); PROBABLE: DT Cory Redding (calf).
Is it too early to talk about the No. 1 pick in the draft? Perhaps not. The loser of this game will be in a “good” spot to grab to top choice and perhaps the undisputed title of worst team in the NFL. The Cardinals, who have been terrible on the road and only have home games left against Seattle and Denver, are probably favored for the final time this season.
WHEN THE CARDINALS HAVE THE BALL
Coach Dennis Green seems to think it is time to help out rookie quarterback Matt Leinart a bit, so — assuming the Cards’ defense doesn’t get torched early — Edgerrin James may be in line for a 30-carry-or-more game against a poor run defense missing suspended defensive tackle Shaun Rogers. Leinart needs to up his play, though, and he has to find a way to get Anquan Boldin more involved.
Key matchup: Cardinals RB Edgerrin James vs. Lions LB Ernie Sims — James averaged more than 4 yards a carry for the first time as a Cardinal last week, although Arizona fell so far behind he only got 15 carries. He may finally have a chance to break 100 yards as a Card today, although the rookie Sims — whom the Cardinals considered drafting — has been solid in his first year and his speed could negate what holes James finds.
WHEN THE LIONS HAVE THE BALL
Under offensive coordinator Mike Martz, the Lions can score points quickly and quarterback Jon Kitna is on pace to throw for more than 4,000 yards. But the Lions are far from consistent offensively and outside of Roy Williams, Detroit doesn’t have any receivers that scare. Running back Kevin Jones has decent numbers both running and receiving, but he disappears for stretches.
Key matchup: Lions WR Roy Williams vs. Cardinals CB David Macklin — Williams torched the Cards last season for three touchdowns and he has to be excited going against a defensive secondary today that continues to be in flux. Macklin makes his first start since the season opener. Macklin hasn’t played more than two quarters in a game all season since being benched early in the opener, while Williams is enjoying his best season as a pro.
SCOUTING THE LIONS
Detroit has undergone a painful transition under new coach Rod Marinelli. The Lions are still underachieving — they fell to San Francisco last week in Detroit — and are going to end up with another high draft pick. They were hurt when dominant defensive tackle Shaun Rogers was sidelined with a suspension; Rogers won’t play today. Cardinals fans will be able to continue to track the Lions’ progress; in a scheduling quirk, the Lions will visit Arizona again next season, the seventh straight year the teams will have met.