Week 16 Preview: Arizona (8-6) at New England (9-5)


When this game appeared on the schedule when it came out this past April, this was the one game I marked as an “automatic” loss for the Cardinals.  In fact, I had so much confidence in the Cardinals ability to not only not win on the road, but in New England of all places, I predicted a score of 75-2.  Of course that was before Tom Brady went down and Kurt Warner was named starter and on his way to a possible MVP season.

However, as I look what lies ahead tomorrow for both teams, New England is the team that has more on the line at this point, especially since the Cardinals have seemingly locked themselves into a fourth seed in the NFC Playoffs after the thrashing they took from the Vikings last Sunday in Glendale.

New England is fighting for just a playoff spot at this point, as they find themselves in a three way tie with Miami and the New York Jets, all at 9-5.  The Cardinals at this point should say they still have more to play for.  Sure, they’ve locked up the NFC West division title and sure they’ve locked in a fourth seed at the very least, but after last week’s terrible performance at home, they have proven that they still have not come completely of age and still need to learn to play consistently with the big boys.  Sunday is another opportunity to do that.

The task will be tough, no doubt.  They will be facing winter weather in Foxboro.  They will be facing a team making every effort to prove their skeptics wrong in that Matt Cassel can lead this team to the playoffs and win without the service of the injured Tom Brady.  Of course, the Cardinals are still facing the stigma of not being able to win on the road, most notably back east.  After losses earlier this season to Philadelphia, Carolina, New York Jets, and Washington, they still have yet to prove they can win away from the friendly confines of home – not just on a consistent basis, but at all.

I won’t keep my prediction of 75-2, because even the Patriots might have trouble scoring 75 in tomorrow’s weather.  More realistically, they could score 49 on the Cardinals.  Hey, don’t laugh.  The Cardinals would have given up that much at home last week if it had not been for two Minnesota miscues.  New England 49, Arizona 21. I hope I can say come tomorrow afternoon, that I was wrong.

Scott Allen