Arizona Cardinals’ 2016 Opponents: Patriots
By Erich Becker
The Arizona Cardinals take on the NFC East Champions in Week 1 of the 2106 Season
2015 Record: 12-4
Head Coach: Bill Belichick
Defensive Rank: 9th (YPG, NFL.com)
Offensive Rank: 6th (YPG, NFL.com)
When?: Sunday, September 11th, 5:30PM MST on NBC
The Patriots had another division title in 2015 and rolled into the playoffs to only be defeated by the eventual Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos after taking care of the plucky Kansas City Chiefs. Starting the season 10-0 the team eventually lost back to back games twice, including the last two games of the year. A serious anomaly that you don’t ever seen in a Patriots team.
The team still plays with a chip on its shoulder after Deflategate, something the rest of us would just hope disappears and we never have to hear about it again, but they’re still angry, and the loss of the first round pick had to influence the trade of Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals.
The Patriots did some Patriots things in the offseason, trading a veteran player a year before free agency and getting something in return for someone that they would probably like to still have, but knew they couldn’t afford. The team got a talented, but disappointing offensive lineman in Jonathan Cooper from the Arizona Cardinals and a second round pick, Belichick’s favorite thing, picks.
Chandler Jones plays his former team in the first game of the season and it should be interesting to see how he parlays his knowledge of the New England offensive into weaknesses he can exploit. The offensive line is something of a duct tape mess going into the offseason and it will take OTAs and training camp to really see where the team is, and how it will keep Tom Brady upright.
The Arizona Cardinals and the New England Patriots match up well in several categories with the Pats being in the top 10 in defense in 2015 and the Arizona Cardinals leading the league in total offense. The return of Chandler Jones to face his former team after being traded is intrigue enough.
The New England Patriots have never played a regular season game in University of Phoenix Stadium, each of the previous two visits have had the Lombardi Trophy on the line and they brutally lost their first game and by-the-luck-of-terrible-playcalling won the second game. This will be the marque match-up the first week of the NFL season, definitely appointment viewing.
Ridiculously Early Projection
Looking at the match-up based on last season, the Arizona Cardinals certainly have an advantage in this match-up. Facing the Patriots early in the season means less tape on the team, it also is in Arizona, a place that Arizona is very strong, to the point they have not lost a non-divisional game at home in Bruce Arians’ tenure. The offense clearly favors the Cardinals and the right now, as it stands, the defense is on Arizona’s side as well.
Tom Brady will be Tom Brady but I expect that the Cardinals will come in to the season off of an emotional high, in prime time, where they didn’t lose in the regular season last year and all the excitement, pomp and circumstance of the opening home game will all, clearly, be in Arizona’s favor.
Cardinals 28, Patriots 21.