Arizona comes into the game coming off a 20-16 win over the Seattle Seahawks, a divisional rival. Quarterback Kevin Kolb came off the bench to throw the game-winning touchdown to Andre Roberts. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Kolb will get the start against the Patriots with John Skelton still nursing a sprained ankle.
New England has no such quarterback problems with Tom Brady still running the offense. The Patriots should once again be near the top of the league at the end of the year as they try to get back to the Super Bowl. However, they first need to win the games they are supposed to win.
Here is everything you need to know about this Week 2 matchup.
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass.
When: September 16, 1 p.m. ET
Spread: Patriots -13.5 (via Vegas Insider)
Kevin Kolb has a 6-10 career record as a starting quarterback, including a 3-6 record last season with the Arizona Cardinals. He has shown signs of promise, but a career completion percentage under 60 percent and 22 interceptions to only 21 touchdowns will not get it done.
The Patriots showed last week that they can stop the run game when they held the Tennessee Titans to 20 yards on 16 attempts. If they are able to do this again and put the pressure on Kolb to win the game himself, it could be a long day for the Cardinals.
Even with this high line, it might not be big enough for Arizona to cover.
Over/Under: 48.5 (via Vegas Insider)
Each of these teams have improved their defense since last year. The young players on each side are starting to come into their own and perform up to NFL standards.
This should help keep the game relatively low scoring compared to the over/under line. This is one of the highest marks of the week, and even with the Patriots' talented offense, it might be too much for these teams to overcome.
Key Injuries (via ESPN)
QB John Skelton (Ankle) Questionable
CB Greg Toler (Hip) Probable
RB Beanie Wells (Knee) Probable
RB Shane Vereen (Foot) Questionable
Fantasy Big Plays
Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald
There are few players on the Cardinals that can be counted on consistently, but Fitzgerald fits that description. It does not seem to matter who is throwing him the ball or what defense is covering him; the veteran receiver always seems to get the job done.
Fitzgerald has not finished a game with fewer than five fantasy points in over a year, an impressive mark for a receiver. This ability to avoid a bad game should always keep him in your fantasy lineup.
Patriots: Stevan Ridley
Tom Brady will always be a good fantasy play, as well as either Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez at tight end, but Stevan Ridley could be on his way to a very good season.
The second-year running back had 152 total yards and a touchdown in Week 1, and he looks like he can be an important part of the offense. New England has not featured the run too often in recent years, but it has not had a back as talented as Ridley in that time either.
If the Patriots get out to a big lead, look for Ridley to get an increased workload down the stretch.
Key to Patriots Victory: Rookie Defenders
The Patriots went mostly defense in the 2012 draft, and it paid off in a big way against the Titans in Week 1. Defensive end Chandler Jones had five tackles and a sack, while linebacker Dont'a Hightower had five tackles as well and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. Safety Tavon Wilson also added an interception.
However, rookies are known for their inconsistency. Young players tend to make mistakes both mentally and physically.
A key for this game and the entire season will be for the Patriots to have solid production from these three players every week.
Key to Cardinals Victory: Avoid Turnovers
Kevin Kolb lost his starting job last season mostly due to the fact that he could not stop turning the ball over. After last season's Week 1 win over the Carolina Panthers, the Cardinals lost six straight games. Kolb had at least one interception in every one of them.
New England tied for second in the NFL with 23 interceptions last season, and the secondary is just as opportunistic this year.
If Arizona has any chance to pull the upset, the entire team must avoid turning the ball over.
Prediction: Patriots 31, Cardinals 13
The Patriots simply have too many weapons on offense for the Cardinals to stop. Also, Kevin Kolb has not proven to be a consistent enough starter to believe he can lead his team to this massive upset.
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