Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 12/14/12
The NFLs Misery Loves Company match-up of the week features the Detroit Lions against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday in Glendale, Ariz. Here are five storylines to follow: By Sunday, it will be 42 days since the Lions last victory and a whopping 77 days for the Cardinals. The Lions, on a five-game losing streak, havent won since Nov. 4, when they defeated Jacksonville to even their record at 4-4. The Cardinals, on a nine-game losing streak, havent won since way back on Sept. 30, when they edged Miami in overtime to improve to 4-0. Between them, thats 14 straight losses. The Cardinals shouldnt expect any sympathy from the Lions, and vice versa. Nobody feels sorry for anybody in the NFL, Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. Both teams are out of the playoff picture, of course, but theyre seriously in need of a victory to improve their mental health. The loser, meanwhile, moves closer to a higher draft pick. At 4-9 with three games left, the Lions and Cardinals entered Week 15 in a five-way tie for the fourth-worst record in the league. As of today, the Lions would have the No. 7 pick overall, the Cardinals No. 8. May the least-inept team not lose. His teammates and coaches badly want Lions receiver Calvin Johnson to break the all-time record for receiving yards in a season. Fortunately, they dont have to do anything out of character to make it happen. While Minnesota might have to force-feed running back Adrian Peterson the ball for him to break the rushing record, the Lions just pretty much have to do what comes natural with Johnson. The great thing about that is were not going out of our way to do it, quarterback Matthew Stafford said. Our offense is at its best when Calvin Johnson is catching the football and making plays for us. Its hand-in-hand with us trying to go out and win games. Johnson needs to average 101 yards in the final three games to break Jerry Rices record of 1,848 receiving yards set in 1995 with San Francisco. Johnson, who will be matched up against one of the leagues top cornerbacks in Arizonas Patrick Peterson, has averaged 118.9 yards through the first 13 games. Megatron also can tie the NFL record for consecutive 100-yard receiving games with his seventh straight, a feat accomplished only by Houstons Charlie Hennigan (1961) and Dallas Michael Irvin (1995). There are two clear-cut mismatches in the Lions favor -- quarterback and their front four against Arizonas offensive line -- which is why Detroit is 6 -point road favorites against a team with the exact same record. Stafford needs to average 331.3 yards the final three weeks to become the first player with back-to-back 5,000-yard passing seasons. He has had some ups and downs, but its nowhere near what the Cardinals have experienced at the position. Rookie Ryan Lindley (San Diego State) is expected to make his third start in four weeks. John Skelton started six games and Kevin Kolb five. Lindley has thrown for no touchdowns and five interceptions while completing 48.3 percent of his passes (58-of-120). Meanwhile, the Lions should be able to dominate up front against an Arizona O-line that has allowed a league-high 51 sacks for 326 yards. Starting two rookie tackles and a rookie center is asking for trouble. Not saying theyre horrible, but they have some things that they can be beat on," Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. "People have taken advantage of that. We hope to do the same. A year ago at this time, the Lions were in the middle of an exciting race to make the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade. The incentive is much different now. You dont have that natural buzz to feed off of, Stafford said. Youve got to find ways to play as a team, play for pride, play for each other and this organization. In the NFL, there's always the built-in pressure to compete every week because jobs for the next year can be on the line. The Lions also would like to take some of the sting out of this seasons disappointment. Two years ago, they won their final four and the momentum carried into the next season. The opposite could happen if they finish this out on an eight-game losing streak. Youd never know it from last weeks 58-0 blowout at Seattle, but the Cardinals actually have a respectable defense. They shut down New England in Week 2 for a surprising 20-18 road victory. The Cardinals rank No. 3 in interceptions (19), tied for No. 10 in fumble recoveries (8), tied for No. 7 in sacks (34), fifth in pass defense (197.1 yards per game) and fourth in third-down stops (33.9 percent). The problem has been Arizonas pathetic offense, which is dead last in the NFL in numerous statistical categories such as total yards, rushing yards, first downs, third-down conversions and points per game. The Cardinals have averaged 10.6 points during the losing streak, including no touchdowns and two field goals the last two weeks. The big question entering this game is whether the Cardinals have packed it in for the season coming off that embarrassment a week ago when they seemingly quit on coach Ken Whisenhunt. That hasn't happened to the Lions, at least not to this point. They just keep losing tight ones, nine of them by a combined total of 50 points. Arizona's nine losses have been by 136 points.
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