The 4-6 New England Patriots will host the 6-4 Arizona Cardinals in Week 12 at Gillette Stadium. Both teams are coming off losses in Week 11, so we can expect New England and Arizona to come out firing on all cylinders in this contest.
The Patriots lost to the Houston Texans in Week 11 by a final score of 27-20. It was a really bad loss for New England since Houston entered the game with only two wins. The Patriots now face an uphill climb to make the playoffs in the first season of the post-Tom Brady era.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, fell to the Seattle Seahawks on the road in Week 11, 28-21. Arizona star quarterback Kyler Murray was sacked by Carlos Dunlap on fourth-and-10 with 38 seconds left in the fourth quarter to preserve the win for the Seahawks.
Entering Week 12, the Patriots are in third place in the AFC East, while the Cardinals are in third place in the NFC West. With the New England-Arizona game almost here, let’s take a look at four bold predictions for the contest from a Patriots’ point of view.
1. Cam Newton throws one touchdown, two interceptions
In his first season with the Patriots after a decorated career in Carolina, former MVP Cam Newton has really struggled. He’s thrown only four touchdowns and has seven interceptions on the season. While the former No. 1 overall pick has rushed for nine touchdowns, Newton hasn’t been effective in the passing game whatsoever.
With that being said, we have Newton struggling in Week 12 against the Cardinals, who are giving up 23.8 points per game on the season and have one of the best defensive players in the NFL in Patrick Peterson. Look for Newton to throw one touchdown pass versus Arizona and get picked off twice.
Ever since he contracted COVID-19, Newton hasn’t looked the same throwing the ball. There isn’t too much velocity on his throws and he hasn’t been able to push the ball down the field that much. While Newton will always be a threat to run the ball effectively, we have the Cardinals’ defense making life miserable for him in the pocket.
2. Damiere Byrd records second straight 100-yard game
In Week 11 against the Texans, Damiere Byrd went off for six catches and 132 yards. He also scored a touchdown for his first score of the season.
Versus the Cardinals, we have Byrd recording his second straight 100-yard game since the Patriots are still without Julian Edelman and Newton doesn’t really have anyone else to throw to. In what has been a down season for the Patriots, the team can at least take solace in the fact that they may have found a diamond in the rough in Byrd, who has 32 receptions on the season for 469 yards.
Byrd began his NFL career with the Carolina Panthers. He also played one season with the Cardinals, so you know the 27-year-old is going to be hungry to put on a show against his former team.
3. Patriots defense struggles against Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins
Cardinals stars Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins have developed a great rapport in their first season together. Hopkins has 72 receptions on the campaign for 912 yards and four touchdowns. Murray has targeted the former Texans superstar 96 times already.
Against the Patriots, we have Murray and Hopkins enjoying a big day against New England’s secondary. The Cardinals will be well-rested since they haven’t played a football game since November 19th. That rest time is going to be huge for Murray and Hopkins, so look for the Patriots to struggle to stop the Cardinals’ dynamic duo.
Murray, one of the fastest players in the NFL, has thrown for 19 touchdowns and 2,644 yards. He is expected to play against the Patriots despite dealing with an AC joint injury in his right shoulder.
4. Patriots lose to Cardinals to drop to 4-7
We have the Patriots losing to the Cardinals in Week 12 and dropping to 4-7 on the season. Barring a miracle, it looks like New England is going to miss the postseason for the first time since 2008. That was the season Brady tore his ACL in the first game of the year.
Ironically, the Patriots’ last two seasons without playoff football could come without Brady being under center for the team.
With Newton leading the way, New England is only averaging 20.9 points per game on the season. That’s 27th in the NFL and not going to cut it. Once the offseason arrives, the Patriots’ front office has to decide if they want to re-sign Newton and give him another shot at quarterback or part ways with him and go in a different direction.