The Patriots are catching a big break with Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald being ruled out for Sunday’s game.
The New England Patriots will look to keep their playoff hopes alive this Sunday when they welcome the Arizona Cardinals to Gillette Stadium.
On paper, this is a daunting matchup for the Patriots, who have largely struggled to contain mobile quarterbacks in recent seasons. And no, we aren’t counting their encouraging display against Lamar Jackson a few weeks ago as a step in the right direction. The torrential rain would’ve made it impossible for any gunslinger to move the ball.
Cardinals signal caller Kyler Murray (shoulder) is still listed as questionable, but the team reportedly expects him to be ready to go for Sunday. The fact that he’s banged up is a promising sign, but that doesn’t mean stopping him will come easy for the Patriots’ charitable defense.
However, Patriots fans can take solace in the fact that Murray will be without one of his most trusted weapons, as veteran wideout Larry Fitzgerald was ruled out after testing positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.
At 37 years old, Fitzgerald hasn’t played a huge role in Arizona’s passing game this season, but Murray still looks his way a ton on third down and in short yardage situations. Given that he has some of the softest hands in NFL history, you better believe that the 2019 top overall pick will feel his absence.
Not having to worry about Fitzgerald will also afford the Patriots the luxury of focusing even more attention on DeAndre Hopkins, who is the league’s leading and most targeted receiver through 11 weeks. For the season, he’s racked up 72 receptions for 912 yards and nine touchdowns on a ridiculous 75% catch rate.
The All-Pro wideout was always expected to be thrown different looks — while being shadowed by cornerback Stephon Gilmore, of course– and this news gives the Patriots even more flexibility to do so without the fear of getting burned underneath by Fitzgerald.
This obviously isn’t to say that New England should ignore the likes of fellow WR Christian Kirk as well as Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds coming out of the backfield, but fans can definitely express optimism after learning that an already-banged up Murray will be without a key security blanket on Sunday.
Again, we aren’t guaranteeing a Patriots win, but Fitzgerald being ruled out definitely boosts their chances at pulling off the upset. And as a side note, we’d also like to wish the 11-time Pro Bowler, who’s a legend to the game both on and off the field, a speedy recovery.