Monday Night Football features the New England Patriots taking on the Arizona Cardinals in a must-win game for both teams as they try to halt two-game losing streaks as the season winds down. Here’s a look at what to expect in tonight’s matchup.
Patriots Eye AFC Wild Card Spot
The Patriots are losers of their previous two games after their 6-4 record had them firmly in control of a Wild Card position in the AFC playoff race. They hope to move into a third-place tie with the New York Jets in the AFC East with a victory on the road tonight, which would put them eighth in the conference playoff standings.
The Patriots’ offense has worsened since QB Mac Jones’ rookie season last year, and they are ranked 24th in the league with 318.9 yards per game. New England is also tied with the Chicago Bears, scoring 20.8 points per contest. However, they have one of the top-ranked defenses in the NFL and are sixth in the NFL with 311.8 yards and 18.8 points given up per game this season.
Coach Bill Belichick said earlier in the week that making changes to the offense is too difficult at this point of the season after Jones showed his frustration over the lack of deep pass plays called on offense in their loss to the Buffalo Bills in their last matchup. That doesn’t sound very promising for an offense ranked 19th in the league in scoring. Leading receiver Jakobi Meyers has also been ruled out of tonight’s game with a concussion.
Cards Desperately Need Victory at Home
With a 4-8 record, the Cardinals are again underachieving after being a preseason favorite to win the NFC West Division. They’re third in the standings, five games behind the San Francisco 49ers, and are 13th in the conference, three wins behind the New York Giants, who currently occupy the final playoff position. The reality is that unless they can win their remaining five games, they’ll again miss the playoffs for the third time in the last four seasons.
Arizona is rested after having a bye last week, giving Kyler Murray an extra week after recently returning from a hamstring injury. He has passed for less than 200 yards in his previous two starts and averaged just 6.1 yards per passing attempt this season, which is his worst career mark.
The offense will need another big game from RB James Conner, who rushed for over 100 yards against the Chargers last week. However, he’ll have a more challenging task in this matchup against the 12th-ranked defense against the run.
The Cardinals are ranked at the bottom of the NFL in scoring defense, giving up 26.8 points per game. Even with the dynamic Murray leading the offense, Arizona is ranked 20th overall and 17th in the league in passing. They have had several key injuries this season, with Deandre Hopkins missing the first six games of the year and starting tight end Zach Ertz lost for the season with an injury.
WR Rondell Moore has been ruled out of tonight’s game with a groin injury, and OT Rashaad Coward is also listed as inactive for tonight. DE Zach Allen is questionable for tonight with an undisclosed illness.
The Patriots rebound with a road win tonight.