BOSTON (CBS) — The 2016 NFL season has arrived, though Patriots fans will have to wait a little longer for their team to kick off the new season.
New England has a tough test to start the 2016 campaign, going up against the Arizona Cardinals and their top-ranked defense on their home turf. The Pats have to take on that talented defensive unit with Jimmy Garoppolo under center, which will be the first career start of the third-year quarterback’s career.
The Patriots head to Arizona as underdogs, with the Cardinals favored by six points, and the CBS Boston sports teams is pretty split on the opening night matchup:
Steve Burton, WBZ-TV Sports
The Patriots play their first four games without Tom Brady and their toughest test may be the season-opener on the road in Arizona. The Cardinals are good, but they’re vulnerable. Not to mention, they’re beatable early in the season.
Jimmy Garoppolo is focused and confident, and he can get the job done Sunday in the desert.
Patriots 21, Cardinals 17
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV Sports
I think it’s natural to pick Arizona as they return most of their team that went 13-3 a season ago and 6-2 at home. Their expectations are through the roof heading into this season, and will be a tough team to beat on their home field.
However, I will pick the Pats in a close one, based on their defense (which should be able to force some turnovers) and Josh McDaniels coming up with a solid game plan for Jimmy Garoppolo.
Patriots 24, Cardinals 21
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports
I’ve been going back and forth with this one. On the one hand, Arizona is at home on opening weekend and this is a prime time game. They are one of the Super Bowl favorites. They need to come out strong.
On the other hand, Bill Belichick has had all offseason to get ready for this first one. He understands their personal and he knows how to slow down the game.
Jimmy Garoppolo gets his chance to make sure he has a solid future in the NFL. If he plays well, he will have a starting job come next season.
The Pats are strong defensively and their special teams are better than the Cardinals. So my heart tells me one thing, but my head says another. I’m going with my heart on this one.
Pats get a defensive touchdown and a special teams touchdown en route to a season-opening victory.
Patriots 27, Cardinals 21
Adam Kaufman, WBZ NewsRadio 1030/98.5 The Sports Hub
I’ve almost talked myself into believing the Patriots will win this game. Almost.
Fact is, if the Pats manage this immensely difficult road win against a Cardinals club that won 13 games and fell a win short of reaching the Super Bowl last year, and they do so without Tom Brady, it’ll be because of their top-five caliber defense and the weapons around Jimmy Garoppolo. The first-time starter isn’t ready to carry New England to a win, nor would that be a fair expectation. Garoppolo, simply put, needs to not turn the ball over. If that means the third-year pro passes for 200 yards and a score or two, but no picks or fumbles, it could still mean a good, efficient night. The health of Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola (both absent on the injury report) will play into that success as well if they’re finding open spots so Garoppolo can get rid of the ball quickly.
This Cards defense, now with former Pats pass-rusher Chandler Jones and his 12.5 sacks last year, is no joke. Patriots radio voice Bob Socci gave me some great numbers: Arizona scored 140 points off 33 opponent turnovers in 2015. Sorry, should have specified great numbers if you’re a Cardinals fan.
This is a terrific matchup and maybe a Super Bowl preview of sorts, but the Pats will narrowly fall.
Cardinals 21, Patriots 17
Mike “Sarge” Riley, 98.5 The Sports Hub/WBZ NewsRadio 1030
If the game were in New England, I’d take Jimmy G and the Pats. But this will be a hornet’s nest in Arizona, on national TV, so I think the Pats start the season 0-1.
Cardinals 27, Patriots 19
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