Posted: 9/16/2012 12:47 PM
This week is the home opener of the 2012-13 season for the New England Patriots. The Arizona Cardinals are coming to Gillette Stadium. The Cardinals are lead by one of the best players in the NFL, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Both teams come into this weeks match-up with identical 1-0 records.
Last week Cardinal starting quarterback John Skelton suffered what is being called a low ankle sprain. Kevin Kolb will start against this week against New England . Last week Kolb came off the bench an orchestrated an 80-yard drive, going 6 of 8 for 66 yards, including the game-winning 6-yard touchdown pass.
Kolb has been up and down with Arizona so it is not known which Kevin Kolb the Patriots will be facing. What is known is the Kolb has limited mobility and doesn’t possess good pocket awareness. The slower the offense is the less effective Kolb will be. The defense can pressure and get to him to produce sacks on Sunday.
This week Arizona may go more with the no huddle hurry up offense that Kolb seems to thrive in through-out his college and pro career. This may help in freeing up and getting more opportunities for Fitzgerald. If the front seven is not able to pressure Kolb then there will be more time for Fitzgerald to get open and time is something he doesn’t need a lot of. The Cardinals may use the passing game to try and open up their running game. Arizona saw how stingy the Patriots run defense was last week verses the Titans.
It will be very hard to run the ball against New England . Keeping the Patriots defense off balance is the key in trying to have success running the ball.
However it is the Cardinals defense that New England should most concerned wit lead by 6’8 300 pound defensive end Calais Campbell. The Cardinals play a very aggressive style of defense and will send at least five pass rushers. They did this last week against Seattle 51.2 percent of the time.
Last year Arizona averaged a sack every 10.7 time a QB dropped back to pass which was sixth-best in NFL. Also the Cardinals had one of the top third down defenses in the NFL.
Josh McDaniels the offensive coordinator for New England will have his work cut out for him in crafting a game plan to combat the Cardinals defense. I say this would be a perfect time for Stevan Ridley to play as well as he did last week in amassing 125 rushing yards in just 21 carries.
If the running game is as effective as it was last week against the Titans, this will slow the aggressiveness of the Cardinal defense down a bit allowing Tom Brady and the Patriot offense to take full advantage of it. Perhaps even throwing a few screen passes Patriots fans have wanted to see for the last two years.
This is a good test for New England offense particularly the offensive line in advance of playing the Ravens in week 3. They really need to know their assignments, communicate and play together to combat what should be creative ways by Arizona to get pressure on Brady.
All things considered expect New England to win their second game of the season. They quite simply rarely lose at home. The Cardinals should not be able to run on the Patriots defense and the secondary although a work in progress should able not to let the Cardinal receivers go wild. Although the Cardinal receivers will experience some success (especially Fitzgerald) they should not all go wild and have pro bowl type of days.
The Patriots defense should continue to be stingy against the run and get pressure on Kolb and make him make bad decisions.
Brady has plenty of offensive weapons to keep the Cardinals off balanced and slow down the aggressive of their defense. A physical challenge by the Cardinals will give Patriot coach Bill Belichick plenty to use in preparation of their week 3 game.
My prediction: Patriots 34 Cardinals 20.
Chance favors the Prepared Mind.
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