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Lions vs. Cardinals preview: NFC top seed at stake

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Arizona: Players to watch

Drew Stanton, QB: The former Lions second-round pick looks to repeat his stellar performance from last week, including the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Andre Ellington, RB: He's looking to become the first to rush for 100 yards against the Lions defense. He's has 582 yards and three TDs this season.

Patrick Peterson, CB: He will have the unenviable task of trying to limit WRs Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. Peterson had two INTs last week, returning one for a TD.


Changing times: Both teams looked to be in playoff contention last year, but faltered down the stretch.

Keep it simple: Cardinals coach Bruce Arians likely will scale back the playbook to keep QB Drew Stanton from taking risks and trying to make too many big plays. That could mean they'll run more.

A big push: With Tyrann Mathieu along with Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie, the Cardinals have the physical defensive backfield to contend with the Lions receivers.

Hello again: Cardinals QB Drew Stanton played with the Lions but not under the current staff. They know enough about Stanton but only DeAndre Levy and Ndamukong Suh were around when he was here.

Opposites attract: Both teams have trouble running the ball — the Lions are 31st, the Cardinals 29th — but their run defense are among the top three in the league.

Facts and figures

■ Arizona's 8-1 start ties the best start in franchise history, set in 1948. Dating to last season, they're on a 15-3 run.

■ Patrick Peterson's 30-yard INT return for a TD was the first of his career, putting an exclamation point to the comeback victory over the Rams.

■ The Lions lead the league in scoring defense, allowing 15.8 points. The Cardinals are fifth at 18.9.

■ The Cardinals are tied for the league lead in turnover ratio (plus-12) while the Lions are at plus-2.

■ Cardinals QB Drew Stanton hasn't played in more than six games in a season; this will be his fifth the year. He could be the starter the remainder of the season with Carson Palmer out.