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Detroit Lions: Three Things to Watch in Week 2 vs. Arizona Cardinals

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Detroit Lions: Three Things to Watch in Week 2 vs. Arizona Cardinals
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The Detroit Lions defense contained Larry Fitzgerald last year, but now he has Carson Palmer throwing …

COMMENTARY | The Detroit Lions recorded their third straight season opening win against the Minnesota Vikings last week, but they face a tough road matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.

On paper, this looks like it should be a win for the Lions, but the Cardinals dominated the Lions last year in a 38-10 win. Granted, the Lions were missing some key pieces and were right in the middle of the Titus Young debacle.

Now the Cardinals have a legitimate quarterback in Carson Palmer and a dangerous secondary with Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson.

Here are five things to watch in the Lions' Week 2 game against the Cardinals:

Carson Palmer-Larry Fitzgerald connection

In his first game as an Arizona Cardinal, Carson Palmer was 26 of 40 for 327 yards with two touchdowns in a 27-24 loss to the St. Louis Rams.

Despite the loss, Cardinals receivers are no doubt happy to have a solid quarterback behind center. The happiest receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, caught eight passes for 80 yards with two touchdowns.

The Lions held Fitzgerald in check last year as he only had four catches for 22 yards, but that was with Ryan Lindley as quarterback. If the Lions bottle up the run game -- which they shouldn't have any problem doing against Rashard Mendenhall -- Palmer will be looking to air it out, and Fitzgerald will be his No. 1 target.

In addition to Fitzgerald, the Cardinals have Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd. They aren't elite receivers by any means, but it's a solid group of wideouts that can pile up some big yards.

Offense needs to limit turnovers

Turnovers killed the Lions last year against the Cardinals. Matthew Stafford threw three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Stefan Logan also muffed a punt, which led to Arizona's first score.

The Lions only had one turnover last week, but they will be facing a much tougher secondary with the Cardinals. If they continue to run the ball and use screen passes with Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, that will open up the deep threat with Calvin Johnson.

Johnson nearly had two touchdowns last week, and it's only a matter of time before he gets his first of the 2013 season. The main difference this year is the Lions don't have to rely on Johnson for offensive production, unlike last year.

For the defense, winning the turnover battle was huge toward getting the win in Week 1 against the Vikings. The Lions defense forced three interceptions and one fumble and will need to do more of the same against the Cardinals.

Palmer is a better quarterback than Christian Ponder and will make better decisions, but if the front four can get pressure on Palmer, they could make his day very miserable and force some passes he wouldn't otherwise make.

Defense needs to be disciplined

The Lions defense managed to contain Adrian Peterson after his first 78-yard touchdown run, but it still had its fair share of discipline problems.

Both Ndamukong Suh and Louis Delmas took personal foul penalties that were completely unnecessary. Suh's penalty cost the defense a touchdown but, ultimately, didn't affect the outcome of the game.

However, the Lions cannot continue to take stupid penalties, because good teams will make them pay for their mistakes.

The Lions have started implementing self-punishments every time the team commits a personal foul. The team will run three gassers (running the width of the field and back is one gasser) every time a personal foul is committed.

I like the Lions appear to be taking the right steps to avoid any unnecessary penalties, but only time will tell if the punishments are working.

Prediction: Lions win 31-24

Tom Mitsos is a Michigan native who covers the Detroit Lions for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He also is a high school sports reporter at MLive Media Group. You can follow Tom on Twitter.

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