View from the other side: Lions vs. Cardinals

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Lions vs. Cardinals

►Kickoff: Sunday, 4:25 p.m., State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.

►TV/radio: Fox/760 AM

►Records: Season opener for both teams

►Line: Lions by 2.5

View from the other side

Katherine Fitzgerald of the Arizona Republic breaks down the Cardinals for The Detroit News, answering five questions heading into Sunday’s game against the Lions. You can follow her on Twitter @kfitz134

Byron Murphy

►Question: We talked to Kliff Kingsbury this week, and he said the mystery surrounding the offensive scheme is being overblown. We can't accept this answer. What, if anything, can we anticipate, even if we're only going off his and quarterback Kyler Murray's collegiate track records?

►Fitzgerald: I liked that Kingsbury has acknowledged that there is a ton of film on his college years. It's not like this guy appeared out of nowhere from another planet. This offense will live and die by Kyler Murray. His accuracy and ability to extend plays stood out throughout the preseason, which was not surprising for anyone who watched him in college. I would expect the Lions to put extra pressure on him Sunday, given the sheer fact that he's a rookie and it's early in the season.

►Question: Running back David Johnson got hurt in the season-opener against the Lions a couple seasons back, then had a down year in his 2018 return. What's the level of optimism he can re-establish himself as one of the league's premier backfield dual-threats?

►Fitzgerald: Last year, in my eyes, Johnson's struggles stemmed from play-calling and a ramshackle offensive line more than from a dip in his abilities. I'm not sure he'll jump all the way back to his 2016 numbers, but I think a more creative offense will suit him. I'm interested to see how they use him as a receiver, though Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk should lead the way there.

►Question: Murray is getting plenty of attention this week, but second-round pick Byron Murphy is getting pressed into a big role due to injuries and Patrick Peterson's suspension. Based on what you've seen this offseason, how ready does Murphy look to handle the challenge?

►Fitzgerald: It's a big task for Murphy, especially considering that Robert Alford, the other projected starter, is now on the IR. I've been impressed with how much he soaked in from Peterson and Alford while he could. Mentally, he seems ready, but I think given a thinner roster on the defensive side in general, it's still a challenge for the Arizona native.

►Question: It's been easy to get fixated on the Cards' offense, but Vance Joseph is also revamping the defense. Do you expect this new scheme to look closer to the aggressive units orchestrated by Ray Horton and Todd Bowles?

►Fitzgerald: The defense as a whole is the biggest question mark for me. Run defense was a huge issue last year, and while the preseason isn't indicative of the regular season, it did not look good in August. I do think they'll definitely be more aggressive than last year, and players like Peterson have said they felt that during training camp.

►Question: The Cardinals will win this game if?

►Fitzgerald: Their defense holds. Even if Kingsbury and Murray find a lot of success on offense, the Cardinals need to turn around and stop the Lions.

Players to watch

Kyler Murray, QB: The No. 1 overall draft pick and Heisman Trophy winner makes his NFL debut against a defense that was No. 8 against the pass (224.9 yards allowed) and No. 10 against the run (110.1 yards) in 2018.

Chandler Jones, OLB: Jones led the NFL in sacks in 2017 with 17 and had 13 more last season. He has not missed a start since 2014 when he was with New England.

David Johnson, RB: The 2016 Pro Bowler (1,239 yards, 16 TD) was injured for almost all of 2017 but  bounced back in 2018 with 940 yards and seven TD. He remains a receiving threat out of the backfield.