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Arizona Cardinals vs. Detroit Lions Point Spread - Pick

Arizona Cardinals (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Detroit Lions (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
Week 1 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 1PM EST
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
TV: Fox

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Betting Odds: ARI -1.5/DET +1.5
Over/Under Total: 48

The Arizona Cardinals come to Ford Field to face the Detroit Lions on Sunday in week one action. Arizona is coming off a rough season. After making the NFC title game in 2015, Arizona slipped to 7-8-1 in 2016. Time is running out for the core of their offense and they will be feeling the urgency this season. Detroit made the postseason last season with a 9-7 record, but now looks for their first playoff win since 1991. It's a telltale season for both teams and getting the season off to a good start is a key for both squads.

Detroit has been one of the more-interesting teams in the league over the past few seasons and it's hard to quantify what they bring to the table in 2017. They have been one of the streakier teams in the league. Last season, they won 8 of 9 at one point in the season, before dropping their last 4, including the playoff loss. The season before that, they started 1-7 and ended 8-8. Whatever the case, this is a pivotal season for head coach Jim Caldwell. A big contract was signed by Matthew Stafford, so at least the top guy on the team will feel appreciated.

Last season, Stafford helped the Lions stage a record eight fourth-quarter comebacks for wins. His being healthy after dealing with a lingering finger issue last season will be key. A better run-game would help and the return of Ameer Abdullah could be critical, if he's able to produce in the backfield. Theo Reddick doesn't make a great impact rushing, but he still caught 80 balls last season. Zach Zenner is also useful out of the backfield. But receiving is a key under second-year offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. The number-one target is still Golden Tate. Despite a few huge games, Marvin Jones would like to be more-consistent over the whole season. Tight end Eric Ebron (questionable) is improved, but whether he will ever fulfill his top ten draft choice promise remains to be seen.

What will determine whether the Detroit offense is able to kick it up a notch will be the offensive line. Losing T Taylor Decker until at least December will hurt. Maybe left tackle Greg Robinson can be all he can be in his first year in Detroit. Another new piece at RG in TJ Lang will also be critical. Graham Glasgow is a good piece at left guard, while Stafford has good chemistry with center Travis Swanson.

What would really help Detroit is a defense that can benefit from the offseason attention that was paid to this side of the ball. They are hoping continued growth among the youngsters and some key acquisitions can tip the scale in the right direction. First-round pick linebacker Jarrad Davis is a potential difference-maker, who along with another rookie in Jalen Reeves-Maybin and free agent signing Paul Worrilow, should improve this area markedly. Word is that Ziggy Ansah will be ready to go for the first game and he would really give this offense a boost if he could reclaim his prior pass-rushing form. Up-front are useful pieces like run-stopping Haloti Ngata, Cornelius Washington and rising A'Shawn Robinson. The draft also yielded a good corner in Teez Tabor, who joins Darius Slay. Safety Glover Quin is with Tavon Wilson, with second-year player Miles Killebrew looking to break out. Sure, the defense is depending on a lot of rookies and second-year guys to blossom, but it's a unit that is on the rise and if the recipe catches hold this season, the Lions could be a factor.

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For Arizona, Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald could be down to their last chance to make big things happen and the same could apply to head coach Bruce Arians. The offense could be dynamic if the stars align. In addition to the veteran leadership at WR that Fitz provides, Palmer also has a good weapon in John Brown, along with a deep threat in JJ Nelson. The real gem on this offense is David Johnson, an elite back with pass-catching acumen.

The Arizona offense needs to be more-realistic in their approach. With an offensive line that can't keep defenses out of the pocket for very long, the aerial game needs to more of a quick-release variety. The offensive line was dealing with health issues, but is still thin heading into 2017. The tackles are decent with DJ Humphries and Jared Veldheer coming back from injury. The inside remains a little unsettled and they can use better play from guys like LG Mike Iupati.

On defense, the Cardinals drafted two defensive backs early and hope Budda Baker and corner Haason Reddick can make up for the losses. Patrick Peterson is still back there, along with a real star in Tyrann Mathieu and Antoine Bethea. This group should at least be decent. The middle gets a boost from returning veteran leader Karlos Dansby, who gives Marcus Golden another running mate in the middle. Up-front, Chandler Jones is a formidable pass-rusher. It's time for Robert Nkemdiche (questionable) to step up, especially as the Cardinals lost a reliable run-stopper with Calais Campbell now out of the fold. Whatever the case, the Cardinals look to field a defense that is less complacent and more aggressive than last season's version.

With some better game-planning and improved health, the Cardinals could reclaim their former form. Detroit, meanwhile, looks for more consistency. If Stafford finds some playmaking ability around him, a deeper defense could help carry them to some big things. Granted, a lot of moving pieces need to connect. But in week one at home, I see them doing enough to maybe get the win and cover. I'm taking Detroit.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Detroit Lions plus 1.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Arizona vs. Detroit game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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