NFL Picks: Lions Will Get First Win in Low-Scoring Game vs. Cardinals

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, October 6, 2015 5:34 PM UTC

Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015 5:34 PM UTC

It's a short week for the Lions off a crushing near-upset win at Seattle on Monday Night Football as Detroit hosts Arizona on Sunday. It's the fourth straight season the teams have played. The Cards are -2.5 on 5Dimes' NFL odds with a total of 44.

Refs Blew Likely Lions Win
There's just no other way to put this: the Lions got hosed Monday in the Pacific Northwest and now at 0-4 their season is all but over -- and the job of head coach Jim Caldwell might be in some jeopardy. The Lions played great defensively against the Seahawks. They sacked Russell Wilson six times and forced three turnovers to keep the team in the game. With just under two minutes left and the Lions trailing 13-10 but deep inside Seattle territory, Matthew Stafford hit Calvin Johnson on a crossing pattern over the middle. It looked like Megatron was going to score as he lunged for the end zone, but Seahawks Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor punched the ball out of Johnson's hands before he broke the plane. The ball bounded toward the back of the end zone, which is where Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright decided to bat it out of bounds instead of trying to recover  it and risk fumbling himself. So it was a touchback and Seattle ball at its 20. It then ran out the clock.

One problem: that's an illegal play. Here is what NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said of the play afterward: "On TV it looked like the Seahawks player intentionally hit the ball. That is a foul. The result of the penalty would give Detroit possession enforced at the spot of the fumble. With half the distance to the goal line, Detroit would have had a first down. ... I have spoken to the referee [Tony Corrente]. He did not see that part of the play because that is not his area. The back judge [Greg Wilson] felt it was not an intentional act, that it was inadvertent."

However, Wright admitted he did it on purpose. Detroit would have had a first-and-goal inside the 1 with 1:45 to play, giving the Lions an 80.7 percent chance of winning. Apparently that play isn't currently reviewable regardless. Look for that to be addressed this offseason. Rather ironically, it was the same end zone where Seattle was the beneficiary of another terrible call, the "Fail Mary" touchdown catch by Golden Tate against Green Bay in 2012. Tate's current team? The Lions.

The Detroit Lions are 0-4 for the first time since 2010 and the playoffs are just about an impossibility now. Stafford had another less-than-impressive game, going 24-for-35 for 203 yards with no TDs. Stafford has now failed to throw for 300 yards in seven straight games, the longest streak of his career. The Lions remain dead last in the NFL in rushing.

Detroit played Seattle without starting running back Joique Bell, who was inactive with an ankle injury. He's questionable this week. Tight end Eric Ebron suffered a knee injury but an MRI showed no structural damage. Too early to tell on him. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata injured his calf and was to have an MRI. And the guy that replaced him, Tyrunn Walker, suffered  a season-ending broken fibula.

The Lions are 1-3 against the spread on NFL odds this season and 1-3 'over/under.'


Red-Zone Woes Plague Cardinals
Arizona (3-1) was arguably the most impressive team the first three weeks of the season in blowing out New Orleans, Chicago and San Francisco. But the Arizona Cardinals came back to earth in Week 4 thanks to a 24-22 home loss to St. Louis. They were a red-zone machine in the first three wins but were held to field goals on four of five trips inside the St. Louis 20. The Rams scored after Arizona rookie David Johnson fumbled away the opening kickoff and never gave up the lead.

Carson Palmer threw for 352 yards and a touchdowns but was picked off once and sacked four times. Chris Johnson continues his bounce-back season with 83 yards on 16 carries. That was only the second time the Cardinals have run for 100 yards in a game under Coach Bruce Arians and have lost. The Cards are now 14-2 in those games.

Larry Fitzgerald had seven catches for 99 yards but dropped his first pass of the season and fumbled for first time since Week 3 of last season. It was the first time since Week 3 of the 2007 season that Fitzgerald had a fumble and dropped pass in the same game. The Cardinals gained 447 yards on the Rams’ very good defense and piled up 26 first downs but it all came down to those red-zone problems. Plus three turnovers.

This game starts a stretch of six of eight on the road for Arizona. The Cards are 3-1 ATS on NFL picks and 4-0 O/U.


Last Meeting
Arizona has won six straight in the series, a run that began in 2006. Last game between the teams was Nov. 16, 2014, in Glendale. The Cardinals won 14-6. Palmer was out injured for the Cardinals so former Lions QB Drew Stanton completed 21-for-32 for 306 yards with two touchdowns -- both to Michael Floyd, on Arizona's first two possessions -- and two picks. Arizona rushed for only 46 yards on 26 carries. Stafford was 18-for-30 for 183 yards with a pick. Bell carried 14 times for 85  yards, while Johnson had five grabs for 59 yards. It was the first time the Lions were held without a touchdown since 2009. Detroit got inside the Arizona 20-yard line only once.

NFL Picks: I'll take the points -- Lions are usually a much better club at home -- and go 'under' the total at 5Dimes. The 'under' is 10-1 in the Lions' past 11 after a loss. The underdog is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. 

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