The Arizona Cardinals head to Ford Field to take on the Detroit Lions in Week 15 of NFL action on Sunday. This is a matchup between one of the best teams in the league and one of the worst, and the lopsided NFL betting lines for this contest reflect that with the Lions installed as 12.5-point home underdogs.
Here are our best free Cardinals vs. Lions NFL picks and predictions for Sunday, December 19.
Cardinals vs Lions odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
This line opened with the Cardinals installed as 13.5-point road favorites with the Over/Under at 47.5. Early money has come in on the Lions, shifting the line to Arizona -12.5, while the total has stayed steady at 47.5.
Cardinals vs Lions predictions
Predictions made on 12/17/2021 at 11 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Cardinals vs Lions game info
• Location: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
• Date: Sunday, December 19, 2021
• Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
• TV: FOX
Cardinals at Lions betting preview
Cardinals: James Conner RB (Probable), Corey Peters DT (Questionable), Justin Pugh G (Questionable), Deandre Hopkins WR (Out), Rodney Hudson C (Out), J.J. Watt DE (Out), Maxx Williams TE (Out).
Lions: Alex Anzalone LB (Questionable), Michael Brockers DT (Questionable), Jalen Reeves-Maybin LB (Questionable), Josh Reynolds WR (Questionable), Julian Okwara LB (Out), D'Andre Swift RB (Out), Jamaal Williams RB (Out), Tracy Walker S (Out), T.J. Hockenson TE (Out), Frank Ragnow C (Out), Trey Flowers ED (Out), Romeo Okwara ED (Out), Jeff Okudah CB (Out), Quintez Cephus WR (Out), Jerry Jacobs CB (Out).
Find our latest NFL injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Cardinals are 5-1 ATS against teams with a losing record. Find more NFL betting trends for Cardinals vs. Lions.
Cardinals vs Lions picks and predictions
Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.
The Detroit Lions already won the equivalent of their "Super Bowl" when they snapped their 15-game losing streak with a victory against the Vikings in Week 13. They followed up on that by getting absolutely smoked by a final score of 38-10 against a mediocre Denver squad last week.
The Cardinals are in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC with a 10-3 record but are coming off a 30-23 home loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football. Arizona moved the ball very well in that contest, but a pair of interceptions from Kyler Murray (one at the goal line and another that resulted in the Rams returning it to the red zone) along with some terrible decision-making in the fourth quarter proved costly.
They also lost wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to an MCL injury in that game, although the All-Pro has been banged up all year and hasn't cracked the 80-yard plateau in two months, so they haven't exactly been reliant on him.
They are fortunate enough to have Murray back under center in their last two games after he missed the previous three contests with an ankle injury. Although the star quarterback threw a pair of costly picks on Monday, he also racked up 383 yards in the air while picking up another 61 on the ground.
Murray will torch a Detroit defense that ranks 31st in the league in DVOA according to Football Outsiders. The Lions have the worst secondary in the league even when everybody is healthy, and right now, they have seven defensive backs on the COVID-19 list and another three out with injuries.
Lions quarterback Jared Goff is 7-1 SU and 6-1-1 ATS in eight career starts against the Cardinals and hasn't lost against them since his rookie year in 2016. But let's not get silly, the Lions have nowhere near the talent that the Rams did, and this year's version of Arizona is a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
Goff is a limited passer with no weapons surrounding him and the Lions are 31st in the league in offensive DVOA. They'll struggle to move the ball against a Cardinals stop-unit that is fourth in the NFL in defensive DVOA and leads the league in EPA/play.
This is a big spread, but there's a massive disparity between these two squads, and the Cardinals should be very motivated after that primetime defeat. Meanwhile, motivation might be tough for a Lions team that's had a long year and finally won a game. Don't blame them if they are already looking to Christmas and an offseason spent on the golf course.
Prediction: Cardinals -12.5 (-110)
This total opened at 47.5, which is pretty high when you consider just how bad this Lions offense is. They've been held below 20 points in 11 of their last 12 games and are averaging just 15 points per game over that span.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell has been notorious for his conservative playcalling all season, and Goff averages a league-worst 4.1 air yards per completion. Plus, their offense will be even worse now that Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson has been ruled out for the rest of the season, while starting running back D'Andre Swift could miss more time due to a shoulder injury.
Don't expect Detroit to put up many points against an Arizona defense that's allowing just 16.9 ppg on the road. That will leave the Cardinals and Murray to do most of the heavy lifting in order to hit this total. However, this is an offense that likes to run the ball and plays at an average tempo, so once they build a lead, expect them to control the clock with their ground game and shorter chunk plays.
With the Under cashing in eight of Detroit's last 11 games overall and going 10-1 in Arizona's previous 11 contests on FieldTurf, we're leaning towards the Under on Sunday.
Prediction: Under 47.5 (-110)
We expect the Cards to win this game comfortably, but anytime there is a spread this large, there's always a worry that the underdog will pull off a backdoor cover.
This is especially true for a Lions team that has gone 8-5 ATS this season and has scored their share of garbage-time points against opponents. That's why we like the Cardinals on their first-half spread, which you can still get at a touchdown on certain sportsbooks (others are stuck at -7.5).
The Cards are fast starters who are second in the league with 15.4 points per game in the first half. They've also been terrific on the road, where they boast a first-half margin of plus-9.0 ppg. Murray has also been at his best in the first 30 minutes, passing for 12 touchdowns against just one interception and rushing for four scores in the first half of games, while throwing for seven TDs with eight picks after the break.
Meanwhile, the Lions have a first-half margin of minus-6.8 ppg, with that number dropping to minus-8.3 ppg at home. Expect another quick start from Murray and Zona, and back them on the first-half spread.
Pick: Cardinals first half -7 (-115)