Five bold predictions for Cardinals road trip at Patriots
The Arizona Cardinals take on the New England Patriots for the first time in four years. Last time they met, the game was down to the wire in what had lofty expectations for the NFC runners-up Cardinals in 2016.
BOLD PREDICTION #1: LARRY FITZGERALD WILL POST A THROWBACK PERFORMANCE
Throughout three of the last four games, Fitz has had at least 54 yards receiving or more in that span. The Patriots defense is actually ranked slightly higher than the Arizona Cardinals (NE=16th, AZ= 18th) , but the Cardinals aren’t the top offense in the league for nothing, averaging 414.3 yards per game, and over 400 over the last three games. Fitz continues his hot streak in New England, and I can see him gaining 95 yards on six catches and two touchdowns (6/95/2).
BOLD PREDICTION #2: THE CARDINALS WILL NOT COMMIT DOUBLE-DIGIT PENALTIES
Oh, what would be the Cardinals record and stats for that matter, if they weren’t leading the league in penalties per game at 7.9, averaging 8 per game over their last three. I hope that with the ten days between games, Kliff Kingsbury hammered home some discipline on the practice field and can limit the amount of times we see that yellow laundry be tossed onto the field.
How’s it going for New England on penalties? Oh, they’re led by the “Hoodie” (Bill Belichick) and only average about 3.6 penalties per game, which is good for the least per game in the league. Talk about opposites.
BOLD PREDICTION #3: DEFENSIVE LINE HAS 3 SACKS ON CAM NEWTON
The defensive line of the Cardinals has had trouble getting home to quarterbacks this season. Through ten games, the defensive line alone only has nine sacks, as most have come by Linebackers or secondary players.
This is the game the Cards break through, as Joe Thuney, Shaq Mason and Isaiah Wynn are all questionable for the game. If at least one of these listed previously do not play, I can see Vance Joseph calling up some great plays to take advantage of this. The addition of Domata Peko Sr. to the trenches makes this OL/DL matchup even more exciting.
BOLD PREDICTION #4: SPECIAL TEAMS STEP UP
If there is anything that hasn’t improved in the desert the last few years, It’s the special teams. You can’t always get touchdowns, but a solid special teams play can set up an offense very nicely.
We haven’t seen Arizona do anything memorable on special teams since week 1 when Zeke Turner blocked the punt from Mitch Wishnowsky. Ironically, the last time the Cardinals played in New England in 2012, Quentin Groves (NOW there’s some Cardinals trivia!) blocked a Zoltan Mesko punt in the third quarter. I think history repeats itself here on Sunday with another blocked punt.
BOLD PREDICTION #5: FINAL SCORE: ARIZONA 34, PATRIOTS 21
Kyler Murray boldly leads the NFL’s leading offense into Foxborough for a much needed win to stay alive as the 7 seed in the NFC playoff race. Fitz performs well on the offensive side, and the pass rush does manage to get home to Cam Newton who has haunted Arizona during his time as a Carolina Panther. The Cardinals enter a critical stretch here over the final six game stretch to end the season.