Cardinals get shot at familiar face in Lions QB Jared Goff in Week 15

Dec 17, 2021, 5:15 PM

TEMPE — The Arizona Cardinals’ third and final should-win game of the season is finally upon us in the form of a Week 15 tilt against the Detroit Lions.

It’s been anything but smooth for the Lions in 2021, who for a fourth straight season will post a sub-.500 record under first-year head coach Dan Campbell.

Detroit’s record reflects a team lost in the NFL shuffle. But Arizona isn’t about to overlook the 1-11-1 squad, especially after what transpired in Monday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

“Looking at them on film, those guys play hard,” Cardinals linebacker Markus Golden said Thursday. “You wouldn’t think they were playing as hard as they is because their record says they’re losing a lot.

“But when you look at them on film, them guys flying around and playing hard. I like to call it playing to win. You can tell they’re trying to win out there. … It’s crazy to see them out there because it looks like a team that is winning a lot.”

Manning the helm for Detroit is quarterback Jared Goff, a face all too familiar to the Cardinals having played five seasons with the Los Angeles Rams from 2016-20.

As a Ram, the signal caller found heaps of success against the Cardinals, posting a 7-1 record behind 2,239 yards, 11 touchdowns to just three interceptions and a 70.6% completion percentage. He also scored three times on the ground.

The days of operating then-head coach Sean McVay’s offense are well behind Goff. That doesn’t mean he can’t still make plays, though.

“He looks the same,” Golden said. “He can make a lot of throws and he looks even better in the pocket with a lot of guys around him. He’s making big throws under pressure so they looking pretty good.”

It’s been a very up-and-down season for Goff, who sports five multi-touchdown outings to go along with five games with no touchdowns. All told, he’s completed 66.2% of his throws for 2,791 yards and 14 touchdowns to eight picks through 12 games.

His play has translated into the 27th worst passing offense in the league (200.8 yards per game), while the offense as a whole is averaging the third worst points per game (16.4).

Unfortunately for Goff, he hasn’t had much help.

The team’s rushing attack has been hit with injury and COVID-19, leaving inconsistencies in the backfield.

D’Andre Swift had back-to-back 100-yard games in Weeks 10 and 11 but can’t seem to stay healthy. Jamal Williams has also been hit by the injury bug as well as the coronavirus. Together, they head the 17th ranked running game in the league (110.5 yards per game).

But for all the shortcomings Detroit’s offense brings, the defense takes the cake.

The Lions have not only allowed the fourth-most points per game with 27.2, they give up the fifth-most yards per game to opposing offenses with 379.2.

It’s been especially rough against the run, with the Lions defense allowing 135.2 yards per game.

And with how optimistic head coach Kliff Kingsbury sounded Friday regarding both running backs James Conner and Chase Edmonds for Sunday’s matchup, in addition to the loss of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for at least the rest of the regular season, Arizona’s run game could be in store for a heavy workload come Sunday.

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