What to watch for in Week 1 as the New England Patriots face off against the Arizona Cardinals.
The New England Patriots are off to Phoenix Stadium to open their 2016 season against the Arizona Cardinals. The Sunday night prime time nationally televised tilt is the Patriots’ first visit to Arizona to play the Cardinals since 2004. The Patriots had two games in Arizona playing Super Bowl 42 (17-14 loss to the Giants in 2008) and Super Bowl 49 (28-24 win over the Seahawks) in 2015.
The Cardinals are coming off an impressive 13-3 regular season that was marred by a 49-15 loss in the NFC Championship game against the Carolina Panthers (Patriots fans can be excused for having forgotten the game as they were no doubt still seething about Von Miller having almost single-handedly ended their season in the earlier game that January Sunday afternoon). Arizona finished with the second best scoring offense last year and were seventh in scoring defense (the stats were marred by a blowout 36-6 loss in week 17 where the Cardinals seemed disinterested against Seattle).
The Cardinals are a difficult test for Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo with their strong secondary and blitz-heavy schemes. The Patriots’ defense will be tested by the dynamic duo of running backs David and Chris Johnson and their passing attack featuring Carson Palmer and his impressive trio of wide receivers.
Having not played a meaningful game since January both teams are anxious to start the regular season. As always, we will examine each team’s match-ups in the passing game and running game and let you know who has the advantage. The article closes with the summary and prediction.
Let’s get right into the preview with what to watch for on both sides of the ball on Sunday night:
Next: New England Passing Offense vs Arizona Pass Defense