Ultimately, this game will come down to how the defense performs. Rookie Brandon Williams is starting at corner and if I’m a betting man, I’d say the Patriots will be targeting him all night. Williams had a roller coaster of a preseason, and for that reason it’s difficult to predict how he’ll hold up in a real game situation.
Tyrann Mathieu will be making his return to the field after his season was cut short with an ACL injury in 2015. While his return is good news for the Cardinals, it’s unlikely that Mathieu will be as effective as he was last season right off the bat.
Finally, the biggest headline heading into this game is the absence of Tom Brady who is serving a four game suspension for his alleged involvement in the Deflategate scandal. Jimmy Garoppolo will be making his first career start and has a huge task ahead of him. The third year quarterback will also be without tight end Rob Gronkowski who is nursing a hamstring injury.
Former Patriot Chandler Jones most likely given the Cardinals an inside scoop regarding the Patriots game plan and tendencies. Jones along with Calais Campbell and the revamped defensive line are going to look to make it a tough first day on the job for Garoppolo.
The Cardinals offense should be able to shake off the rust to move the ball against an above average Patriots. The defense should have a field day against first time starter Garoppolo, and the absence of Gronkowski only makes things easier. While a win is not guaranteed, Arizona is 9-1 in home openers at UoP Stadium and should be looking to make it 10-1.
Arizona Cardinals 34 New England Patriots 17