Megatron vs. Peterson makes Lions-Cards watchable

  • By Kareem Copeland
  • Around the League Writer
  • Updated: Dec. 15, 2012 at 01:18 p.m.

There's nothing at stake except jobs, reputations and draft positions when the Lions and Cardinals meet at University of Phoenix Stadium. But it should provide one of the most intriguing individual matchups of the regular season.
Megatron vs. Patrick Peterson

Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson tried to hype the meeting this week, but it largely fell on deaf ears outside of Michigan and Arizona. Peterson called himself the best cornerback in the league and Calvin Johnson the second-best receiver behind Peterson's teammate Larry Fitzgerald. The 2011 No. 5 overall pick, at 6-foot-1, 219 pounds with speed, is one of the few corners in the league that has a chance one-on-one against Megatron.

Johnson and the Lions, however, are trying to make history. He is 303 yards shy of breaking Jerry Rice's single-season record of 1,848 receiving yards.

Few teams have dared to play Johnson one-on-one, but few teams have a cornerback the caliber of Peterson.

Here's the rest of our Week 15 underrated storylines:
Doug Martin vs. Saints run defense

The Bucs and Saints are all but eliminated from the playoffs, but that doesn't change the dislike between the NFC South rivals. Everyone knows the best way to beat the Saints is to keep quarterback Drew Brees on the sideline. That responsibility falls to Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin and the Tampa Bay offensive line. Martin ripped off a torrid stretch between Week 8-11 where he averaged 148 yards. He was held to 106 combined yards in the next two games before bouncing back with 128 against the Eagles last week. He needs one of those 120-plus games to work the clock and leave Brees in the ballcap. Especially in the Superdome.

The Saints have the No. 32 run defense and has allowed a 100-yard rusher in four of the past seven games. And these aren't even the Adrian Petersons of the world. We're talking about backups in David Wilson (just 13 carries) and Marcel Reese in addition to LeSean McCoy and Willis McGahee.

The entire defense has been a sieve in New Orleans. Martin and the Bucs offense need to take advantage in order to keep slim playoff hopes alive.
David Wilson vs. Falcons run defense

All kinds of playoff implications in the "A" this week, and the focus is on two of the top passing attacks in the league. Eli Mannings vs. Matt Ryan. Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Martellus Bennett vs. Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez. Gone are the days where Brandon Jacobs and Michael Turner would have headlined.

But the Giants are much more dangerous with a run game and running back Davis Wilson provided that last week with 100 yards on 13 carries. The rookie brings breakaway speed to the field and has bounced back from an early season benching.

The Falcons have the No. 23 run defense and have had good moments (50 yards to Doug Martin) and not-so-good (127 to LaRod Stephens-Howling). The Giants put 52 on the board last week with Wilson breaking big gains in the run and return games.
Alfred Morris vs. Trent Richardson

The top rookie rusher vs. the first running back taken in the 2011 draft. These two could be near the top of the rushing yards list for years to come -- if Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris isn't just another product of Mike Shanahan's system. He wants to debunk that theory and showing up Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson would help.