GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals are having bad seasons.
No news there, just business as usual for arguably the least successful franchises in the NFL over the last half-century or so.
When the teams meet on Sunday, the Lions will bring a five-game losing streak, the Cardinals a nine-game skid.
At least Detroit has been competitive, and entertaining, with the No. 2 offense in the NFL. The Lions have managed to blow double-digit leads in the past three games, tying an NFL record. Arizona, with the worst offense in the NFL, endured the most one-sided loss in franchise history last Sunday, a 58-0 Pacific Northwest battering at the hands the Seattle Seahawks.
"The goal is never to let that repeat itself," the Cardinals' beleaguered wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "We've got to bounce back. We've got a game back home. It's a tradition that we've always played strong at home."
The Lions opened as a six-point favorite, but their players are careful not to expect an easy day in the desert, regardless of the Cardinals' free-fall.
"We got our own problems," Detroit center Dominic Raiola said. "I don't think we're in a position to say we should beat a 4-9 team, because we're 4-9. They're trying to put out their own fires and they're probably looking at us with some level of confidence."
The Cardinals seemed shell-shocked in the aftermath of the shellacking in Seattle. It fell on team president Michael Bidwill, the owner's son, to try to quell the emotion by asserting that coach Ken Whisenhunt's job status would not be dealt with until the season ends.
Both franchises have had brief escapes from irrelevance in their recent histories.
The Cardinals made a surprise run to the Super Bowl in 2008, and won the NFC West title for the second year in a row in 2009.
A year ago, Detroit made the playoffs for the first time in a decade. But the Lions' frustrating string of close losses prevented them from building upon last season's success.
Now, for both teams, it's about trying to muster the necessary emotion for the final three games of the season.
"It's different. You don't have that natural buzz to feed off that the playoffs are in the future," Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "So, you've got to find ways to play as a team, play for pride, play for each other and for this organization."
Keeping things together seems more challenging for Arizona, where the season has disintegrated after a 4-0 start. A loss on Sunday would match the franchise record for consecutive losses in the season at 10. That record was set in 1944, when the Cardinals were 0-10 after combining rosters with the Pittsburgh Steelers because of a shortage of players during World War II.
The Cardinals' defense, which has been the team's strength through most of the season, surrendered 493 yards (to Arizona's 154) against the Seahawks. Eight Arizona turnovers added to the pressure put on an increasingly weary defense.
"It's been pretty tough," Arizona inside linebacker Daryl Washington said. "We take a lot of pride in what we do. We think that still, no matter where we get the ball at on defense, we have to be able to stop those guys. That's what are job is to do. But it is frustrating to a sense where we want our offense to maybe move the ball, kind of sustain drives. Not necessarily score every time they get the ball, but kind of keep us off the field so we can get our rest and be able to come out and compete like we want to."
While Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson is basking in a great year, threatening the NFL's single-season record for yards receiving, Fitzgerald needed a 2-yard grab in the fourth quarter on Sunday just to keep his string of catches alive at 130 games.
The Arizona receiver has repeatedly been open only to find his quarterback either not see him or miss him with a bad throw. Other times, the pass is forced in the direction of the well-covered Fitzgerald only to be intercepted.
"I can understand that," Johnson said of Fitzgerald's struggles. "In my early years, there were years I had four or five quarterbacks."
Whisenhunt went back to Ryan Lindley virtually by default after his other option, John Skelton, threw four interceptions -- three in Fitzgerald's direction -- and fumbled the ball away before being benched against the Seahawks. Arizona's best option, Kevin Kolb, finally was placed on injured reserve this week after missing seven games with a rib injury.
Lindley, a sixth-round draft pick out of San Diego State, started two games but was replaced for the Seattle contest after completing 10 of 31 passes for 72 yards in an ugly 7-6 loss to the New York Jets. In that game, the Cardinals tied a franchise low with five first downs and were 0 for 15 on third downs.
An entertaining subplot is the matchup between Johnson and Patrick Peterson, the super-confident second-year pro who proclaims himself the best cornerback in the NFL.
Johnson's 1,546 yards receiving are 302 yards shy of Jerry Rice's record.
"I think that's a matchup a lot of people are waiting to see," Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said, "two great players, two guys that sort of re-define the position. There are not many wide receivers that are 6-foot-5 that can jump the way Calvin does. There are not many corners that are as big as Patrick Peterson and run and do all the things he can do."
At least it might be a reason to watch the game.
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