Sunday Night Football Week 1 – New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals – Preview and Prediction
In what could be a Super Bowl preview, the Patriots head to University of Phoenix Stadium to take on the Cardinals on the first edition of Sunday Night Football. However, if these two teams meet again, it’s likely Arizona sees an entirely different New England team.
At BetOnline, the current odds have Arizona -7 (-110) and New England +7 (-110). Originally, the game opened with the Patriots as -1 favorites. That was before it was announced that Tom Brady would miss the first four games of the season after being suspended in relation to the “deflategate” saga.
The odds moved considerably in the Cardinals favor after that was announced. It has also been reported that star tight end Rob Gronkowski will miss the game due to injury. Upon this news, Arizona moved from -6 or -6.5 to -7 across the board.
The total has also dropped considerably since the news on Brady. The game opened with a total of 47.5 points, but that has dropped to 45 points. The odds have a good chance of moving before kickoff, especially with the public heavily betting on the Cardinals
The Patriots are coming off a 12-4 season where they won the AFC East but lost in the conference finals to the eventual Super Bowl champion, Denver Broncos. As mentioned above, New England will be without surefire Hall of Famer, Tom Brady, for four games. Taking his spot will be the backup quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo.
“Jimmy G” has been in the league for two full seasons and was drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He hasn’t played much in the past two seasons. In the preseason, he was mediocre at best. He favored his check downs even against poorer defenses in preseason football. One can only wonder how he will fare against the Cardinals.
The Patriots defense is near full health, but that can’t’ be said for the offensive side of the ball. In addition to missing Gronkowski, they will be without tackle Nate Solder and guard Jonathan Cooper. Garoppolo’s top receiving option will likely be Julian Edelman who will probably be shadowed by Tyrann Mathieu.
The Cardinals finished the season last year with a 13-3 record, good enough to edge out the Seahawks for first place in the NFC West. Arizona had high hopes for a title last season, as they do this year. Last year’s ride ended in the conference finals where they were blown out by the Carolina Panthers.
The biggest news coming into this game is the availability of Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu tore his ACL late last season, but is fully recovered and is not on a snap count. His availability makes an already excellent Cardinals secondary elite.
Wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown were bothered by injuries during the preseason but are now fully healthy for Week 1. Not only does Arizona have one of the top defenses in the league, but they have one of the best offenses as well.
I was lucky enough to get New England at -6 (-115), shortly before the Gronkowski news broke. But, that doesn’t help you guys, my readers! Anyway, as it stands now, I don’t think there’s much of an argument for betting on the Patriots unless the odds move to +7.5, then you can on pounce.
That may happen as we get closer to kickoff, especially at recreational bookmakers who are more likely to shade their odds. The bets will probably pour in on the Cardinals as the late afternoon games end. New England is the “sharp” play in this game, but that changes if the odds go over a touchdown. There’s also an opportunity for a middle for those who got New England at -6 or -6.5.
Bill Belichick is a genius game planner, but even this matchup is too much to overcome for him. Garoppolo simply just isn’t very good. It’s going to be a brutal matchup all around. Arizona isn’t going to roll over New England’s defense, but they should have no issue scoring 25 or so points.
Pick: Cardinals -7 (-110)