Arizona Cardinals Will Correct Errors in Week 15

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The Arizona Cardinals lost a big game on Monday night and slipped from the top seed in the NFC to third in the standings. That loss is a game to move on from, not forget. Fortunately, on a relatively short week, the Cardinals will be offered the chance to correct those errors against the floundering Detroit Lions. The Cardinals had issues against the Los Angeles Rams, but they should correct those against the Lions in their Week 15 matchup.

Detroit Lions Offer Arizona Cardinals a Chance To Correct Errors in Week 15

The Lions may have the worst record in the NFL, with only one win on their record. However, they are by no means the worst team in the league. Nevertheless, even this somewhat wounded Cardinals outfit should not have a problem. Winning this week, and making a statement of playing a clean game in all phases, will take top priority for the Cardinals in Week 15.

No Wasted Possessions and the Offensive Line

A key part of this game for Arizona has to be cleaning up the offense and limiting turnovers.  A -4 in the turnover differential ostensibly lost the game for the Cardinals on Monday, and that is simply not going to produce winning football. Although expected to return to a full-strength unit this week, with Justin Pugh and Chase Edmonds back in the fold, DeAndre Hopkins’ knee injury is a concern. Regardless, Arizona just has to work on not wasting the ball on offense; twice the ball was turned over on downs against the Rams, and that cannot happen.

The return of Justin Pugh at left guard is vital to a deep postseason run, so getting him back and rolling sooner rather than later is great. It also brings to a close the unfortunate pairing of Max Garcia and Sean Harlow manning the guard spots, as they have struggled. The interior was a revolving door against the Rams and that has to get fixed. Against the Lions, a team that ranks second-lowest in sacks per-game average, that should be fairly straightforward.

Getting their offensive line, a unit that has stalled recently, intact down the stretch is integral to the success of Arizona’s multi-faceted offense. The Cardinals receivers have not been productive over the last month, but James Conner’s excellent form has picked up almost all the slack. On offense, Arizona has to be able to stay on schedule, play good, safe football, and not turn the ball over. Against this Detroit defense, fundamental football should do the trick, and it is exactly what Arizona’s offense needs to get back to.

Jared Goff Presents Convenient Challenge

Jared Goff might actually be playing a little better than Detroit’s record suggests. Namely, he is not turning the ball over. Arizona’s deficit in turnovers was the problem against the Rams; they gave the ball away, and the Rams did not give it up. Goff might not be Matthew Stafford, the Lions former quarterback, but he has thrown fewer interceptions than Kyler Murray this season. That might not be remotely indicative of their performances, but it does give some idea of what the Cardinals face in Goff. But for context, Murray is averaging the most yards per pass attempt in the league, while Goff ranks 29th. Goff, the prototype West coast quarterback, throws a bunch of shorter, safer passes and that helps limit turnovers. If Arizona’s defense wants the ball, they are going to have to create their own turnovers, just as they would when facing a top team, like the Rams, or the Green Bay Packers. Containing Detroit’s limited offense should be fairly routine for a somewhat-overperforming Arizona defense, so the Cardinals should take the opportunity to play aggressive football.

Defense Has To Correct Errors

This Cardinals defense is a Vance Joseph defense. It is predicated on downhill, aggressive football. It is a tentative balance of discipline and violence, and it has worked wonders, for the most part, this season. Against the Rams, Jalen Thompson was not the stalwart on the backend that he has been for much of the year. Stafford’s bomb to Van Jefferson was a scathing non-highlight for Thompson, as he and the rest of the secondary struggled. If the Cardinals are to play aggressively against Detroit, Thompson has to get back to being that beacon of reliability in the defensive backfield. Goff might be a bit of a dart-thrower, but the ability to throw a deep-ball is in there somewhere, and Thompson has to take it away. Cardinals fans should have every faith in Thompson and his return to form will allow his teammates to hunt against Detroit.

Above all, Arizona’s defense has to play complementary football against the Lions. The secondary may have struggled against the Rams, but the pass rush hung them out to dry. Goff has been sacked 32 times this year, so the opportunities are there. If Arizona play as aggressively as they should, then Goff will not be able to get rid of the ball as quickly as he wants to. Detroit’s offense isn’t good but Arizona’s defense is, and they need to show it on Sunday.

The Cardinals are one of the best teams in the NFL and the Lions are one of the worst. If winning is a formality, then the Cardinals also have to make a point of correcting their most significant errors from Monday’s loss to the Rams. They need to be exploitative on offense, complementary on defense and win the turnover battle. And this is a road game for the Cardinals, and they seem to prefer those anyway.

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