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The Cheat Sheet: Lions defensive line could be the difference against the Cardinals

Everything you need to know for Lions vs. Cardinals Week 14.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

This week’s game against the Detroit Lions will be the Arizona Cardinals’ ninth different combination along the offensive line this season.

Maybe more stunning is this will be their seventh straight game with a different combination of starters along the offensive line. That can’t make rookie quarterback Josh Rosen feel good going into this game.

The Cardinals have given up only given up 32 sacks (15th in the NFL), but they’ve allowed 155 pressures according to Pro Football Focus (fourth highest in the NFL).

David Johnson has also struggled this year behind that maligned offensive line, averaging just 3.7 yards per attempt. And he won’t be helped this week as he goes up against Damon Harrison Sr.

Before the Lions traded for Harrison earlier this year they were near the bottom of the league in run defense (26th) and allowed a league-high 5.3 yards per carry.

Since the trade, the Lions have completely flipped the script, becoming one of the best run stuffing teams in the NFL.

“Snacks” has been absolutely dominant this season:

  • He leads all defensive tackles with 64 tackles
  • He has the second-most runs stuffs among defensive tackles with eight
  • He’s the only defensive tackle with 60+ tackles, 8+ tackles for loss, 3+ sacks, 2 forced fumbles

The Lions will need to bottle up Johnson and force Rosen into a few mistakes. This could be an ugly game where neither teams move the ball well on offense. The Lions defensive line could be the difference against a struggling Cardinals offense.

Opponent snapshot

The Arizona Cardinals are a mess. There’s no other way to put it. Their offensive line is in shambles, they’re the lowest-scoring offense in the league, and their defense isn’t much better. This is a throwaway year for the Cardinals who will look to rebuild around their rookie quarterback next season.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals’ biggest threat

Chandler Jones

One of the lone bright spots on the Cardinals continues to be Chandler Jones. Even though Arizona hasn’t been competitive this season, Jones’ has still continued to impress:

  • 12 sacks (3rd)
  • 3 forced fumbles (t-8th)
  • 39 tackles (t-19th among defensive lineman)

If Jones notches two sacks on Sunday, he would have at least two sacks in three of the last five games.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Green Bay Packers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals’ weak link


The Lions go from playing one of the best offenses (the Rams) in the league to one of the worst:

  • 5.9 yards per attempt (32nd)
  • 66.9 passer rating (30th)
  • 56.1 completion percentage (30th)
  • 12 touchdown passes (30th)

Bottom line

This game may be one of the more boring games across the entire slate of games. I think in the end the Lions are a better team and make a few more plays than the Cardinals and their rookie quarterback.


Lions 17 Cardinals 14

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