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Carson Palmer injury means Lions will likely face Drew Stanton

It looks like Sunday's game will feature a quarterback matchup of Matthew Stafford vs. Drew Stanton.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Stanton departed the Detroit Lions after the 2011 season, mainly because he wanted to be more than a third-string quarterback. With Shaun Hill backing up Matthew Stafford in Detroit, Stanton was stuck on the inactives list more often than not, so he headed elsewhere. Initially, he signed with the New York Jets, but he was traded to the Indianapolis Colts after Tim Tebow ended up in New York.

While in Indy, Stanton didn't appear in any regular-season games, as he was Andrew Luck's backup. However, he played under offensive coordinator and interim head coach Bruce Arians, and Stanton followed Arians to the Arizona Cardinals in 2013. Once again, Stanton didn't see any action in regular-season games, but that has not been the case this year. Stanton has already made three starts, and now he's poised to become the Cardinals' full-time starter with Carson Palmer likely out for the season.

Stanton quickly led the Cardinals to victory after replacing Palmer on Sunday. Overall, Stanton's numbers this season aren't necessarily all that impressive -- he's only completed 49.5 percent of his passes for 614 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions -- but the Cardinals are 2-1 with him as a starter. What's more, Stanton didn't even finish the game in that one loss thanks to an injury of his own, and that was a road matchup against the Denver Broncos anyway. In other words, the Cardinals have shown that they can win with Stanton at quarterback.

With Stanton likely taking over the 8-1 Cardinals going forward, it means he should face Stafford and the 7-2 Lions on Sunday in a battle for the top seed in the NFC. Back when Stanton was the Lions' third-string quarterback years ago, I never could have imagined that he would someday be quarterbacking the NFL's top team against the Lions with the top seed in the NFC on the line this late in the season, but here we are. The Lions know Stanton quite well, and he obviously is quite familiar with the Lions, and a lot will be riding on Sunday's reunion in the desert.

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