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Cardinals carry perfect road record to Detroit

Sportsnaut
Dec 13, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) celebrates after scoring a rushing touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams during the fourth quarter at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-Arizona RepublicNfl Los Angeles Rams At Arizona Cardinals
Dec 13, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) celebrates after scoring a rushing touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams during the fourth quarter at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-Arizona RepublicNfl Los Angeles Rams At Arizona Cardinals

Arizona has been the NFL’s best road team this season. The Cardinals have a golden opportunity to keep their spotless road record intact.

They’ll face the Lions, owners of the league’s worst record, in Detroit on Sunday.

Arizona has won all seven of its road games by double digits.

“It’s very impressive,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “They can jump on you in a hurry.”

The Cardinals (10-3) are .500 over the last six games after a 7-0 start. All the losses have come at home, including a 30-23 defeat to the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night.

“We’d definitely like to get that figured out before we wrap this season up, no question,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “We’ll continue to try to address those things and hopefully the next one we can play one of our best games.”

Kyler Murray threw for 383 yards on Monday but was also picked off twice. He’s also used his legs a lot more in the past two games. He rushed for 61 yards against the Rams and ran for 59 yards and two touchdowns in the team’s last road game at Chicago.

“He uses his legs as a luxury versus relying on it, which in today’s NFL is such a dangerous weapon,” tight end Zach Ertz said. “You could have the perfect play (defensively) and you get a little pressure and the play’s not over with his legs. It’s just such an advantage.”

Murray may have to improvise more often due to injuries to key skill players. DeAndre Hopkins injured his knee late in Monday’s game and might miss the remainder of the regular season. Top running back James Conner, who scored two rushing touchdowns and caught a season-high nine passes vs. the Rams, sat out Wednesday’s practice with an ankle injury.

Campbell believes the Cardinals have the luxury of being more aggressive on defense due to an offense that has scored at least 30 points eight times this season.

“It helps when you feel like you can score at will and you can really just do whatever you want,” he said. “That puts a lot of pressure on teams.”

The Lions (1-11-1) have been decimated by injuries and illness. Top running back D’Andre Swift missed the team’s 38-10 loss to Denver on Sunday with a shoulder injury and is unlikely to play this week. The team’s second-best option, Jamaal Williams, was placed on the reserve/COVID list prior to the game.

The Lions were also missing tight end T.J. Hockenson, who is dealing with a hand injury. Swift and Hockenson were two of six players who didn’t practice Wednesday due to injury.

Campbell has been encouraged by the improved play of his wide receivers corps, now headed by rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown, Kalif Raymond and Josh Reynolds. St. Brown has caught 18 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown in the past two weeks. He had the game-winning grab on the final play of Detroit’s last home game against Minnesota.

“I feel like our receivers are really coming on the last three or four weeks, particularly these last two weeks,” Campbell said. “They’re doing some really good things. I’m encouraged. As cloudy as maybe it was before, you’re starting to see things a little better.”

Craig Reynolds was activated off the practice squad with Swift and Williams out and rushed for a team-high 83 yards in Denver.

Ertz said the Cardinals can’t take the Lions for granted.

“They play their butts off,” he said. “We have to match their intensity on Sunday. It’s not a gimme game by any means.”

–Field Level Media