The Detroit Lions have been marred by injury all season long, but recently things have taken a turn for the worse—in particular for the secondary. The Lions were signing defensive backs off the street this week, a tactic that has largely worked for them thus far this season due to the magic of coaches Aaron Glenn and Aubrey Pleasant. While that looked to spell bad news on Sunday, a significant turn of events has put the Lions in much better shape and makes Week 15 a much more legitimate matchup.
Lions get back:— Erik Schlitt (@erikschlitt) December 18, 2021
Bobby Price https://t.co/Nq6D9mmah3
Bold prediction of the week: Lions hold Kyler Murray to less than 200 yards passing
The Lions got back three defensive backs who will likely be starters this week, in addition to a guy is a huge asset on special teams (Bobby Price). That’s a huge swing in the Lions’ favor right there.
To add to that, the Arizona Cardinals officially ruled out star receiver DeAndre Hopkins for Sunday. While Arizona does have efficient receivers in Christian Kirk and A.J. Green, they don’t have much wide receiver depth behind them. In fact, the cupboard is so bare that the loss of Hopkins prompted rumors of the Cardinals bringing back 38-year old Larry Fitzgerald to help fill the gap.
With those rumors getting shot down, the Cardinals are very short on weaponry in the passing game. This timing doesn’t help for Cardinals QB Kyler Murray either, who’s still rehabbing an ankle injury that sidelined him for the entire month of November and left him as a game-time decision just two weeks ago. That game against the Bears was Murray’s only game this season with less than 200 passing yards, but the Lions will be looking to make it two.
All those factors could slow down the Cardinals’ air attack, assuming they have the pieces to move the ball on the ground. Luckily for them, they do:
Cardinals’ RB James Conner, listed as questionable for Sunday due to an ankle injury, is expected to play vs. the Lions, per source. Arizona now will have Conner and Chase Edmonds, fresh off IR, available on its DeAndre-Hopkinsless offense.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 19, 2021
The Cardinals are getting back two very good running backs who should have no issues causing fits for a Lions run defense that has been very up and down all season.
If the Cardinals want to keep Murray’s workload light, especially without his favorite receiver, it’s likely they’ll lean into their two running backs with fresh legs against the Lions on Sunday. Add in the return of about a third of the Lions defense from various injury and illness, and we could see a quiet game through the air from Kyler Murray on Sunday.