BOSTON (CBS) – The 98.5 The Sports Hub, WBZ-TV and WBZ NewsRadio Sports teams make their predictions for the Patriots home opener against the Arizona Cardinals.
Scott Zolak, 98.5 The Sports Hub
A lot of people aren’t saying much about the Cardinals, which is surprising.
The bottom line last week was the Patriots were able to shut down Chris Johnson. It’s a little different entity this week with Larry Fitzgerald. The All Pro receiver isn’t going to be lining up in the backfield; Arizona will flex him out, wide him out, put him in motion. If he’s getting slowed down, there are different ways to get that guy the ball.
But if you can slow down Larry Fitzgerald, you may win by two touchdowns.
I look at this Arizona team to be active up front and give the Patriots more problem than the Titans did last week. Bottom line though is they’re playing at home. Look for Welker to be more productive this week, probably playing 80-85% of the plays. And with all that, the Patriots should roll to a win.
Andy Gresh, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald will probably end up getting his, but if the Patriots hold him to eight catches for about 110 yards and a touchdown that would be a win for the them. Fitzgerald is an elite player in this league, and it’s close to impossible to shut him down completely.
Expect the Cards to come at the Patriots with a very aggressive defensive scheme to try and get to Brady and disrupt the rhythm. But the Patriots are at home and rarely lose at Gillette.
The use of the tight ends – moving them around – is key. Aaron Hernandez, as we mentioned on this week’s whiteboard, you can see how they move him around and put him in motion, causing the corner plays off him so Brady just hits him with a screen. That negates Welker’s role, making it hard for him to get open, but the bottom line is the Patriots will still score a ton of points and improve to 2-0.
Steve Burton, WBZ-TV
It’s only Week 2, but this is the week of which unbeaten will stay perfect. Knowing the Patriots track record in their Gillette openers, it will be New England as they gun for the 11th straight home opening victory.
On defense, the Patriots have one person to worry about: Larry Fitzgerald. If the Pats contain him, Arizona goes nowhere. But the Patriots shouldn’t take the Cardinals too lightly; they have won eight of their last 10 games dating back to last year.
Arizona will likely be starting their second-string QB in Kevin Kolb, because John Skelton has a sprained ankle. It shouldn’t matter who is taking the snaps, Fitzgerald still remains the key.
As far as the Pats’ offense goes, they want to keep this train moving; on the ground and through the air. The Patriots are hoping Stevan Ridley gains more confidence with each carry he gets, and the offensive line loves to block for him.
Through the air, Brady is back to his normal self. It would be nice to see Brandon Lloyd catch a deep one this week, and don’t anyone forget about Wes Welker (the Cardinals sure won’t). Even though he only had three catches in the first game, he is still Brady’s go-to guy. #12’s favorite receiver is the open receiver, whoever that may be on a week-to-week basis.
As a whole, the Patriots are extremely dangerous. If everyone stays healthy, there is no telling when they’ll lose.
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV
The Patriots showed something in the first game of the season that should scare the bejesus out of everyone in the NFL: they can now run the ball and beat you with a balanced attack. This item alone has put them ahead of the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals can play big boy defense, but for how long? They will have to stop six or seven Patriot weapons and that will surely be too much.
As for the Pats defense, they will stay strong on stopping the Arizona running attack. Here’s the problem with that: the Cardinals don’t run the ball all that well. Their offense is Larry Fitzgerald and that’s it. They may sprinkle in some Todd Heap but big Larry will have to have a huge game for them to win anything in Foxboro this weekend.
Add to that, the Patriots are undefeated in home openers at Gillette and this is the weekend Troy Brown goes in to the Patriots Hall of Fame. I feel the Pats will win comfortably.