New England 45.5 ARIZONA -6
Monday September 12, 10:30am AEST
New England Patriots
New England’s season fell just short last year, losing at Denver in the AFC Championship game. It’s a game they didn’t expect to have to play in Denver but after they collapsed in their final two regular season games against the Jets and Dolphins, their hand had been dealt. NE experienced injuries on their offensive line last year as well as with their receivers and that ultimately hurt them down the stretch.
They added G Jonathan Cooper from Arizona in a trade for Chandler Jones. Hopefully, for NE’s sake, Cooper plays better at NE than he did in Arizona. They also added TE Martellus Bennett to team up with Rob Gronkowski and also help replace Gronk if/when he is hurt during the year, which he always is.
As of writing this he is highly questionable for this game. That’s a big loss for NE, especially seeing they will play this game without Tom Brady (Jimmy Garoppolo will start) who is suspended the first four games of the year.
The Pats are also without dynamic RB Dion Lewis for a while and RT Sebastian Vollmer is likely out for the season so their attempts to shore up the offensive line have been made more difficult. NE did bring back offensive line coach Dante Scarnechia who coached NE on the offensive line for years. They also get back Nate Solder from injury.
On defense NE traded Chandler Jones and his 12.5 sacks to Arizona and while that’s a lot of sacks to lose, they are still strong defensively and they knew they weren’t going to be able to resign him after this year. NE has a very strong secondary and Jamie Collins and Don’t’a Hightower are outstanding linebackers.
The defensive line is anchored by Jabaal Sheard so NE is strong on defense at all three levels. NE will play without Rob Ninkovich as well as injuries and suspensions have hit NE hard early in the year.
Arizona had a fantastic year last year with the exception of the total collapse at Carolina in the NFC Championship game. Arizona needed to get healthy, find a pass rush, and improve their offensive line during the offseason.
They’ve attempted to do that by trading for Chandler Jones (12.5 sacks last year), signing S Tyvon Branch, G Evan Mathis and drafting DT Robert Nkemdiche, CB Brandon Williams and C Evan Boehm. S Tyrann Mathieu also returns from injury.
The offensive line is always a question mark but it has improved over the last two years and its unknown how well Carson Palmer will play after his horrible season final last year in Carolina. Palmer was playing with a hand injury that should be healed now. But, Palmer didn’t look good in the preseason so the jury is still out for Arizona.
RB David Johnson has become a bell cow for Arizona and gives them exactly what they need to complement their big game passing attack. The receivers for Arizona are big and strong (Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd) and tiny and quick (J.J. Nelson and John Brown).
NE averaged just 3.7ypr against 4.1ypr last year but 6.9yps against 6.4yps. On defense they allowed just 4.0ypr against 4.2ypr, 6.0yps against 6.3yps and 5.2yppl against 5.5yppl so they were very good across the board on defense and only struggled to run the ball on offense. With Garoppolo now at the helm and possibly no Gronkowski it remains to be seen how effective he will be. Their running game looks like a huge weakness again.
Arizona averaged a whopping 7.8yps against 6.5yps and 6.3yppl against 5.6yppl last year while the defense was above average across the board, allowing just 3.9ypr against 4.2ypr, 6.1yps against 6.3yps and 5.2yppl against 5.4yppl.
NE qualifies in a negative week one situation, which is 51-17-7 and plays against the Patriots here. That situation is 35-7-5 since 2000. Arizona was just 3-6 ats as a home favorite last year and this game figures to be a low scoring game because of two strong defenses.
The situation is incredibly strong and an automatic play but the Cardinals pressure should be enough to get to Garoppolo and keep NE in check. Short of Carson Palmer throwing interceptions all over the field, I expect Arizona to be able to get to 24 points in this game and I’m not sure NE can do that, especially if they don’t have Rob Gronkowski. Update: Gronk is scheduled to not play or is Jonathan Cooper or Nate Solder.
This is a huge blow to the Patriots offense. The under is a solid play as well. This number came down a point and a half over the last day based on the Gronk news so we lost a little value but we needed that news to pull the trigger on this play.
Arizona by 13
BACK – Under 45.5 points