Arizona Cardinals (1-0) at New England Patriots (1-0)
The last time these two teams met the Cardinals were running their college-style offense with Kurt Warner and Matt Leinart at the quarterbacks position while Matt Cassell was filling in for Tom Brady after his ACL-tear for the Patriots. New England went on to defeat the Arizona 47-7. Cassell ended the game with 3 touchdowns and running back Lamont Jordan had two rushing touchdowns.
This time Tom Brady will be leading his Patriots into their first home game of the year coming off a 34-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans. Coming into Foxboro will be a Cardinals team who barely walked away with a Sunday victory over the Seattle Seahawks while losing their starting quarterback John Skelton to a high ankle sprain.
When you compare the two teams it is clear that Belichick and New England have the advantage in almost every aspect of the field outside of special teams (Patrick Peterson). For the Patriots, this will be another game to solidify the balance of their offense and how things will run for the rest of the season. Last game the Cardinals allowed 115 rushing yards and if Stevan Ridley repeats the performance he delivered last Sunday against the Titans, things could get out of hand fast for Arizona.
On the other side, Arizona has yet to announce a starting quarterback for Sunday’s game. Kevin Kolb may have been the savior last week leading the Cards on the eventual game-winning drive, but it’s clear that the coaches think the team is better off with Skelton at the helm. Whether Kolb or Skelton is leading the team, their going to need maximum effort against what’s looking to be a solid Patriots defense. Larry Fitzgerald is still Larry Fitzgerald, so with his talent and the inexperience of New England’s secondary, it should open up the running game.
Coming off a great game, rookies Dont’a Hightower and Chandler Jones can make another huge impact as the Cardinals offensive line isn’t one of the best in the league. And with Vince Wilfork in the middle, things may open up on the edge for the two young players. Similar to Sunday’s defensive plans against first time starter Jake Locker, expect Belichick to put the pressure on the quarterback and keep it on him throughout the entire game.
Arizona Safeties versus Aaron Hernandez/Rob Gronkowski: Like every other team facing off against the New England Patriots, they know that the tight ends are the key to the offense. The Cardinals have a formidable safety pair in Kerry Rhodes and Adrian Wilson and they are big enough to get physical with the two tight-ends though either may not have the speed to cover Aaron Hernandez. If they can slightly slow down the tight ends, then the teams chance of winning will increase.
You can’t blame the Arizona Cardinals for being outmatched this week. Expect the New England Patriots to easily handle the Cardinals. They have too much offense and if the defense is peaking like most think it will, then the Patriots will just be on the start of a great season.
Patriots 38 – Cardinals 10