It's only Week 3, and there's a lot of season left, but Sunday feels like a big game for the Detroit Lions as they try to avoid an 0-3 start in Arizona. The chances of making the playoffs at 0-3 are historically much worse than at 1-2, so Detroit needs to play better than they have the first two weeks and get a notch in the win column.
Here are five things to watch out for in today's game against the Cardinals:
ALL HANDS ON DECK
It looks like the Lions might finally get their full complement of weapons back on offense this week.
Pro Bowl wide receiver Kenny Golladay missed the first two weeks of the season due to a hamstring injury, but he returned to practice this week and could be in line to make his 2020 debut. He was officially listed as questionable to play, but it was certainly good news that he was back at practice all week.
It would be a big boost for Detroit's offense to have the NFL's leader in touchdown receptions (11) last year back in the fold. Golladay can stretch the field and make tough catches. His presence should open things up even more for Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola, T.J. Hockenson and the rest of Detroit's pass-catching weapons.
Detroit could also have the services of starting right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, one of their big free-agent acquisitions this offseason. Vaitai has missed the first two games with a foot injury. He returned to practice this week, too, and is also listed as questionable.
Arizona comes into this contest seventh in yards allowed per game (341.0) and second in points allowed (17.5).
MURRAY THE RUNNER
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray has passed for 516 yards and rushed for 158 so far this season. He is the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era with at least 500 passing yards and 150 rushing yards through the first two games of a season. Murray leads the Cardinals in rushing, and his 6.5 average per rush leads the NFL through the first two weeks. He's got three touchdowns rushes and three runs of 20-plus yards.
He's a dangerous passer as well, but when he's able to use both his arm and his legs, Arizona's offense is at its best. Detroit has to be good this week trying to make Murray a passer only.
Detroit has had the least effective pass rush the first two weeks (last in pass-rush win rate), and has allowed the most rushing yards (408), which is not a good combination. Detroit is also one of only two teams (Houston) without a takeaway so far this season.
They square off against an Arizona offense that ranks sixth in total offense (421.0 yards per game) and 11th in points per game (27.0). Murray is playing at an MVP-caliber level early on, and DeAndre Hopkins is one of the best receivers in the game. Detroit's defense certainly has its hands full today.
Controlling Arizona's run game should be job No. 1 for Detroit. They can't allow Arizona to get things going on the ground like they have the last two weeks against Chicago and Green Bay.
Generating a takeover, or two or three, would also go a long way.
STAFFORD TO STEP UP
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has been solid to start the season, but he hasn't quite picked up where he left off last season when he was on a tear before injuring his back Week 8.
He has 504 passing years (12th in the NFL), a 58.7 completion percentage (31st), three touchdowns (14th) and a 83.3 passer rating (25th). He's thrown two critical second-half interceptions that led to opposing touchdowns in both of Detroit's first two losses.
It's possible Stafford will have his full complement of pass-catching weapons available today, so the Lions need No. 9 to be sharp to escape the desert with their first win of the season.
HOCKENSON VS. CARDINALS
In his first game as a rookie last year, Hockenson burst onto the NFL scene with six catches for 131 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals in an eventual tie. Hockenson didn't duplicate those numbers again in a shortened first season due to injury, but Detroit's second-year tight end is off to a good start this year, leading the Lions in receptions (9), yards (118) and touchdowns (1) through the first two games.
If the Lions get Golladay back, things should open up even more for Hockenson. Could we see another 100-yard receiving game from him in Arizona again?