By Conor Perrett
The football hasn’t stopped this weekend and tonight on Monday Night Football, we have two teams heading in the wrong direction, trying to rescue their season.
With the Cardinals coming off a bye week, they host a New England team facing a backlash after a poor offensive performance last week.
Arizona Cardinals (4-8)
Power Rankings: 25th
DVOA Rankings: Offence: 29th, Defence: 24th, ST: 28th, Overall: 30th
The Cardinals’ defensive coordinator Vance Joseph made some comments during the week that raised eyebrows.
When talking about the Patriots offence, Joseph said: “It’s a very conservative passing game, a lot of screens. It’s how a defensive guy would call offensive plays.”
Joseph knew who he was aiming at he said this, with former defensive coordinator Matt Patrica running the Pats offence now. A move that came with lots of criticism and Joseph lined up to take some shots himself.
Trash talking is always fun to see in the league, but it comes at a risk. Making comments like this can back-fire, especially when the Cardinals defence has itself been poor. They have stars at all three levels of the defence, but have failed to get the best out of any of them. New England’s offence might be a good start to turn that around, but it’s a risky bet to go up against Bill Belichick like that.
On the other side of the ball, the Cards offence has to start performing to what we saw at the start of last season. The Patriots have struggled with No. 1 receivers as of late, so with Hopkins back, expect him to be heavily involved if Kliff Kingsbury knows what he’s doing.
New England Patriots (6-6)
Power Rankings: 15th
DVOA Rankings: Offence: 24th, Defence: 3rd, ST: 10th, Overall: 12th
The Patriots’ playoff chances are plummeting weekly and a loss to the Cardinals would drop them under .500 and leave them last place in the AFC East. Bill Belichick has worked his magic on defence, having it playing at an elite level for the majority of the year.
But the complete opposite can be said for New England’s offence.
Things won’t get much easier for the Patriots with starters Jakobi Meyers , Isaiah Wynn and Damien Harris all expected to miss the game. Their loss will only add to New England’s worries as Matt Patrica tries to change the narrative around their offence.
The biggest question marks will be at the offensive tackle positions. With Wynn set to miss the game with a foot injury, back-up Marcus Cannon remains on IR and third replacement Yodny Cajuste is labelled questionable. With left-tackle Trent Brown also questionable, the Patriots top-4 tackles are all in doubt for the game.
With Arizona set to host this game you would expect that to be an advantage, but it actually might not be. The Cardinals have only won one game at home all season.
Both teams are a bit beaten up heading into the game, but Arizona do hold the advantage of a bye week to prepare for the game. New England themselves have had a bit extra time by playing on last week’s TNF, so in the grand scheme of things it evens itself out.
Hopkins and Hollywood Brown will cause trouble for the Patriots man-coverage but the defensive line should have its way with an average Cardinals o-line.
It has all the markings to be a low scoring game with how both teams have been performing as of late, so I will learn towards the better coach. Belichick is no ordinary coach and Kingsbury has shown us nothing in his career that says he belongs in the NFL. Even with maybe the better roster and home advantage, I can’t see it making too much of a difference and see New England travelling back with the win.
Patriots 21-20 Cardinals