AFC Game Of The Week
New England Patriots (12-4 in 2015 at Arizona Cardinals (13-3 in 2015)
Patriots– During these first four weeks of the season, the entire football world will be watching what the Patriots do and for obvious reasons because Tom Brady is gone for the first four games as he serves his suspension for his role in “deflate gate”. Looking at an overview of everything, this is something that the Patriots can benefit from with Jimmy Garappolo as the starting quarterback because his name has been featured in trade rumors for a while so the team will be able to see if he’s the heir apparent to a legend when he decides to hang it up. Let’s also look at it like this, when Brady does return, he’ll be entering his age 39 season so he’s not getting any younger. I liked the off-season the Patriots had. They added Chris Long to their defense and then traded for Martellus Bennett to give their offense another tight end tandem to pair alongside Rob Gronkowski. To begin these first four games without #12, they will start with a primetime road battle against the Arizona Cardinals and this will be their first time back at this stadium since winning Super Bowl 49.
Cardinals– I remember throughout the 2015 season, I referred to them as the most complete team in football due to their ability to score at any time, control the clock and defensively, they can get a takeaway and get after the quarterback. They surprised a lot of people when they won the NFC West, a division that was penciled in for the Seahawks but it didn’t quite work out that way. Arizona also clinched a first-round bye in the playoffs and lost to the eventual champion Carolina Panthers. Coming into the 2016 season, they are one of the favorites to come out the NFC and represent the conference in the Super Bowl this year and for that to happen, Carson Palmer needs to be on his A game and I say that because they go as far as he takes them. Tyrann Mathieu is also back on the field now after tearing his ACL last season and he’s the most important piece to this defense. They kick off the season on Sunday night with a different looking Patriots team coming to town.
Patriots X-Factor: LaGarrette Blount– I see the Patriots moving the football down the field exactly how they did when Matt Cassel was their starter in 2008. Lots of running the ball and that forces defenses to load up the box and you can use your play action to throw it down the field. Blount is back and will be Garappolo’s best friend as the running game is crucial to a quarterback making his first start.
Cardinals X-Factor: The Secondary– the Cardinals defense can do a lot as a whole unit. They can get pressure from the outside edge guys and linebackers and they can also force turnovers. Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson will try their hardest to lure the young quarterback into throwing in their directions
Prediction: With New England, defenses won’t know what to expect from their offense. When Brady is on the field, you know what you’re getting. The Cardinals will be pumped up at home for this one and want to get back to football after showing everyone last year what type of team they can be. I like the Cardinals in this one. Cards 27 Patriots 14