New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, September 11, 2016, 8:30 pm Eastern, TV: NBC
University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, Arizona
Opening Line: Arizona pick
Current Line: Arizona -9 1/2
Opening Total: 51
Current Total: 44
Opening Money Line: Cardinals -245 / Patriots +205
Current Money Line: Cardinals -450 / Patriots +325
The New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals were both one win away from the Super Bowl last year as both lost in their respective conference championship games. The two teams meet Sunday night to open the season in Glendale.
The big news for New England is of course Tom Brady losing his Deflategate suspension appeal. He will miss the first four games of the season. Jimmy Garoppolo will start in his place. He has never started a game in his two year career. He has thrown for 188 yards with a touchdown.
Arizona leads the series 7-6 against New England. The Cardinals won the last meeting 20-18 in Foxboro in 2012 to snap a five game losing streak against the Patriots. This is the first time the Patriots have played the Cardinals in Arizona since 2004. Although the Patriots have played in two Super Bowls at University of Phoenix Stadium since then.
Arizona is coached by Bruce Arians. The Cardinals won the NFC West title last year with a 13-3 record. Arizona was crushed by the Carolina Panthers 49-15 in the NFC Championship game. New England won the AFC east title with a 12-4 record under coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots lost to the Denver Broncos 20-18 in the AFC Championship.
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New England scored 29 points a game last year and allowed 20 points a game. The Patriots averaged 375 yards per game on offense including 287 passing and 88 rushing yards per game. On defense, New England allowed 340 yards per game including 241 passing and 99 rushing yards. The Patriots were 97/230 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents were 92/243. New England forced 49 sacks and allowed 38 last season. The patriots were +7 in turnovers.
Brady threw for 4,770 yards with 36 touchdowns and 7 interceptions last year. The playbook should be pretty much the same for Garoppolo.
Running back LaGarrette Blount had 165 carries for 703 yards and 6 touchdowns. James White will also start. He didn’t have a lot of carries, but did have 40 catches for 410 yards and 4 touchdowns. Dion Lewis is out indefinitely with a knee injury.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski is out Sunday with a hamstring injury. He had 72 catches for 1,176 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. Martellus Bennett who signed as a free agent from the Chicago Bears will start at tight end. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola will be the receivers. Amendola is probable with a knee injury. Two other receivers Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell are both questionable. Five offensive linemen are listed on the injury report and both starting tackles are out.
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Arizona scored 31 points a game and allowed 20 per game. The Cardinals averaged 408 yards per game on offense including 289 passing and 120 rushing yards. Arizona allowed 321 yards per game on defense including 230 passing and 91 rushing yards. The Cardinals were 97/207 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents were 83/227. Arizona forced 36 sacks and allowed 27 last year. The Cardinals were +9 in turnovers and had 6 defensive touchdowns.
Quarterback Carson Palmer threw for 4,671 yards with 35 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Drew Stanton is the back-up.
Running back Chris Johnson had 196 carries for 814 yards and 3 touchdowns. David Johnson had 125 carries for 581 yards and 8 touchdowns, plus 36 catches for 457 yards and 4 touchdowns. Andre Ellington and Stepfan taylor will also get some carries, although Taylor is questionable with a knee injury.
Receiver Larry Fitzgerald had 109 catches for 1,215 yards and 9 touchdowns. He is probable with a knee injury. John Brown had 65 catches for 1,003 yards and 7 touchdowns. He is probable with a concussion. Michael Floyd had 52 catches for 849 yards and 6 touchdowns. Tight end Darren Fells had 21 catches for 311 and 3 touchdowns. Nine defensive players are listed on the injury report including 4 defensive backs who are questionable or out for the season.
New England is 3-12 ATS on grass, and 1-6 in road games. The Patriots are 4-1 ATS in this series recently. The under is 4-1 in the last five games in this series.
Arizona is 5-0 ATS in September, 5-1 in week one, 3-9 on grass, and 1-6 at home. The favorite is 4-1 ATS in this series recently.
The Patriots have not been an underdog in week one since 2003. Some lines were as high as 9.5 for the Cardinals. That seems a lot for a Belichick coached team even without Brady and Gronkowski. I think the Cardinals win but New England keeps it closer than the oddsmakers think it will be.