MNF Preview: New England at Arizona

MNF Preview: New England at Arizona

Arizona Cardinals vs. New England Patriots

Line: New England -2.5

Total: 44

Where: State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona

When: Monday, 12/12 at 8:15 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

New England will try to avoid falling into a possibly insurmountable hole on Monday night when it faces an Arizona team that might already be in that proverbial hole.

The Patriots have lost two straight games and are priced at +275 to make the playoffs at DraftKings, while the Cardinals have lost four of their last five games and are 50-1 long shots to make the postseason field. This is the first meeting between these teams since 2020, when New England picked up a 20-17 win as a 1-point home underdog.

Oddsmakers opened the Patriots as 2-point favorites for this primetime matchup, with the early betting action moving the line down slightly to -1.5. Since then, the number has moved back up to 2.5. The total opened at 44 and saw some slight movement down to 43.5, only to go back up to 44 as of early Monday.

Arizona, which is coming off its bye week, likely needs to win out if it wants to have a shot at making the playoffs in the NFC. The Cardinals have been ravaged by injuries this season, which can partially account for their four losses in their last five games.

Quarterback Kyler Murray, running back James Conner, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and wide receiver Marquise Brown are all available for just the second time this year. Brown returned from the injured reserve (foot) in Week 12, catching six passes for 46 yards in a 25-24 loss to the Chargers.

Conner, a two-time Pro Bowler, ran for 120 yards in that game, marking his first 100-yard game in his two seasons with the team. Arizona released backup Eno Benjamin last month, leaving Conner as the primary rushing option. He has rushed for 476 yards this season, averaging 3.9 yards per carry.

The Cardinals come into this game ranked No. 20 in the NFL offensively, averaging 334.8 yards per game. They are facing a New England defense that has been playing well, ranked seventh in yards allowed per game (311.8). The Patriots need more from an offense that is No. 24, averaging 318.9 yards per contest.

They are tied with Denver for the worst red zone efficiency numbers in the league, scoring a touchdown on just 37.5% of their trips to the red area. New England had won five games in a six-game stretch before suffering consecutive losses to Minnesota and Buffalo over the past two weeks.

The Patriots are only one game back of the Jets for the final playoff spot in the AFC, making every game critical for them right now. Quarterback Mac Jones has completed 68.1% of his passes for 1,963 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. His top targets have been wide receivers Jakobi Meyers and DeVante Parker, who have combined for more than 1,000 receiving yards.

Running back Rhamondre Stevenson leads the rushing attack with 734 yards and four touchdowns. He will be facing an Arizona defense that is No. 21, allowing 356.2 yards per game.

The Cardinals have been struggling at home, going 1-10 in their last 11 home games. New England has covered the spread in six of its last nine games, going ‘under’ in four of its last five contests. Arizona has seen the ‘over’ cash in each of its last six games.

The pick: Arizona +2.5

Bill Belichick has voiced his frustrations with his team and an inability to change much at this stage of the season. The Patriots are in a must-win position on Monday night, but I don’t think they are going to get the job done in a cross-country travel spot against an Arizona team that is rested and healthy coming off its bye. New England’s defense has struggled against running quarterbacks in recent years, and Murray now has his top wide receivers available. The Cardinals are almost eliminated from playoff contention, but they will keep their slim hopes alive this week.

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