The New England Patriots head to Scottsdale Monday night, taking on the Arizona Cardinals. Both teams are on two-game losing streaks, and falling farther down the divisional ladders. The visiting Pats are timid one-point point favorites (total at 44½), according to NFL odds.
Pats Mild or Wild?
Although the 6-6 New England Patriots may be at the bottom of the AFC East, they still have a chance at making the playoffs. The New York Jets currently hold the last wild-card position in the conference, one game ahead of the Pats. Beating the Cardinals and having the Jets lose in Buffalo (Orchard Park) would obviously help New England’s postseason aspirations.
Currently, the odds board has New England at +250 (do) and -325 (don’t) in wagering to make the postseason. That’s per NFL playoff odds.
The New England Patriots were on a three-game winning streak, then losing to the Minnesota Vikings and those aforementioned Buffalo Bills. It’s an easier assignment in the desert, as the visitors can’t afford to lose here.
The Patriots are neither terrific nor terrible in any category. They’re a textbook middle-of-the- road squad. They don’t scare anyone offensively, but with a defense that usually keeps them in games. The last three losses have seen the team surrender 33, 33 and 24 points, so the “effective defense” term comes with an asterisk. If the Pats can hold the Cardinals to 20-ish points, there’s a shot to succeed.
Cardinals’ Poor Season-and-a-Half
At 4-8, the Arizona Cardinals (coming off a bye) have had a poor season, a two-game losing streak after last game’s 25-24 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. LA managed to score with just 15 seconds, converting a two-point conversion to steal the win. It was sort of how this season has gone in Arizona, where the Cards have been quite the pathetic unit.
With nothing at stake the remainder of this season, there’s nothing to suggest coach Kliff Kingsbury returns in 2023, This was a team which began 7-0 last season, then lost six of last 10, then routed in its playoff game, now at 4-8. That’s not exactly a vote of confidence.
The Cardinals are by no means a bad offensive team, with injuries to quarterback Kyler Murray and running back James Conner, and suspension of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins at points during the season, Arizona’s problem is it’s awful defensively, having surrendered 26.8 points per game. That’s second-worst in the NFL.
Patriots in Nail-Biter
With the betting odds suggesting this is razor-thin close, there’s not much to distinguish either team. However, New England’s reliability on defense may win the game. The Pats’ offense, led by quarterback Mac Jones, is not overwhelming, but taken to find a way against the Cards’ lousy defense. Go under in the total, but that, too, figures to be close to the number.