- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly analysis of the Detroit Lions' quarterback play.
Rewind: Matthew Stafford was pretty sharp in his team’s opener against Minnesota, especially considering some of the concerns about his accuracy in the preseason. He completed 28 of 43 passes for 357 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Stafford also did a good job moving the ball to different receivers, targeting nine different Detroit players. Part of Stafford’s success can be attributed to the time he had. He was barely pressured against the Vikings, which gave him time to break down Minnesota’s defense.
Fast-forward: This could be an interesting matchup for Stafford. His top target, Calvin Johnson, will likely be covered by one of the top corners in the league, Patrick Peterson. Sunday's game also showed the difficulty of facing Detroit’s offense for most teams, because if you overplay Johnson, Stafford can check down to Reggie Bush. Arizona could be one of the few teams that won’t have to overplay Johnson because of Peterson, so they could play balanced. That will be something to watch, along with how much pressure Arizona’s front four gets. The Cardinals had no sacks on Sunday against St. Louis.
Screen watch: Before Sunday against Minnesota, Stafford had not thrown more than seven screen passes in a game in the past four seasons. He threw eight, completing six, against the Vikings. Much of that has to do with Bush, but if he is able to continue to use that, it’ll improve his accuracy and efficiency.
Prediction: Stafford struggled at Arizona last season, completing 48 percent of his passes (24 of 50) for only 246 yards. Those numbers should all improve this season with more options available. He’ll hit the 300-yard mark again and throw a couple of touchdowns.