Arizona Cardinals vs. New England Patriots - 9/11/16 NFL Pick, Odds and Prediction
New England Patriots (0-0) at Arizona Cardinals (0-0)
Sunday, September 11, 2016; 8:30 PM ET (University of Phoenix Stadium)
New England Patriots +5.5 - Over/Under: 47.5 See the Latest Odds
Our first “Sunday Night Football” edition of the 2016 NFL season comes on September 11, as the New England Patriots head to University of Phoenix Stadium to face the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1 action.
As usual, the Patriots stormed through all competition in 2015, earning a 12-4 record and first place in the AFC East. New England’s Super Bowl hopes were dashed, however, in the AFC Championship when they lost to the eventual champion Broncos 20-18.
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With “Deflategate” all over the news for what seems like forever, you’re probably aware that Patriots QB Tom Brady will be out of action for the first four weeks of the season due to a suspension. That leaves the signal-calling duties here to a largely unproven Jimmy Garoppolo, who has just 31 attempts for 188 yards and a score in his career. That said, Garoppolo has plenty of weapons to work with, including RB LeGarrette Blount, WRs Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman, and also Rob Gronkowski, who is the most dominant tight end in the game. Gronkowski posted 72 receptions last year for 1,176 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Considering how formidable their offense is, New England’s defense was able to hang tough in 2015. The Pats allowed 240.7 YPG passing as most teams tried to play catch-up, and a nice 98.8 YPG on the ground.
Over on the Arizona side, the team is coming off a strong but ultimately disappointing season. The Cardinals finished the regular season 13-3 for first place in the NFC West, but eventually fell to the Panthers by an embarrassing 49-15 in the NFC Championship.
Veteran QB Carson Palmer leads the Arizona attack on offense. Palmer was able to post 4671 yards last season alongside 35 touchdowns. The favorite target was fellow vet Larry Fitzgerald, who finished with 109 receptions and 1,215 yards with nine scores. The Johnsons (David and Chris) will once again power the Cardinals’ rushing attack; the duo combined for 11 touchdowns in 2015.
Arizona is no slouch on defense, either. The Cardinals allowed 321.7 yards per game on average, including an impressive 91.2 YPG on the ground. Arizona also kept the scores low for the most part, allowing just 19.6 points per game on average.
The Patriots are 3-12 ATS in their last 15 games on grass, and 1-6 ATS in their last seven road games. The under is 5-2 in New England’s last seven games on grass, and the over is 13-6 in their last 19 Week 1 games.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals are 5-0 ATS in their last five games in September, and 5-1 ATS in their last six games in Week 1. Arizona is also 3-9 ATS in their last 12 games on grass, and 1-6 ATS in their last seven home games.
This should be a great matchup to watch for any NFL fan; we have two strong offenses going against two strong defenses, but something’s got to give. The X-factor here will be Garoppolo, who can get the Patriots a victory if he can avoid making any mistakes. I think New England will come up with a win here; they always seem to find a way to get by. I’m picking the Pats to not only cover, but win outright in a tight game.