Three Keys to Victory for the Arizona Cardinals against the New England Patriots

Norm Hall/Getty Images

Three Keys to Victory for the Arizona Cardinals against the New England Patriots

Football

Three Keys to Victory for the Arizona Cardinals against the New England Patriots

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Norm Hall/Getty Images

 

On Monday night, the 4-8 Arizona Cardinals take on the 6-6 New England Patriots in Arizona. An underachieving season is a nice way to describe the 2022 Cardinals, albeit they’ve had their fair share of bumps along the way. From a six game suspension for DeAndre Hopkins, a serious injury to Marquise Brown, and some banged up weeks for Kyler Murray, this Cardinals team has been through it. Finally, at full strength, the Cardinals still have a chance to make a wild card playoff push with a potential 9-8 record if they can win-out. It starts this Monday, and here are some important points the Cardinals need to focus on to start a late season rally.

Let the Hollywood Lights Shine Bright

The Cardinals need to make it a focal point to get Marquise “Hollywood” Brown going early and often in this game. Bill Belichick is one of the greatest coaching minds in the history of the NFL, but he uses this one very simple strategy often. Take away your best player. No one does it quite like Belichick, and the best player on the Cardinals is DeAndre Hopkins. Belichick infamously told Chad Ochocinco before a game that Ochocinco would be facing double coverage all day long. Belichick doesn’t hide his technique, and Hopkins can expect to be smothered right away. By forcing the ball into Brown’s hands early, the Patriots will be forced to lay off Hopkins to more equally guard both receivers. Brown is incredibly explosive, and he has shown his true potential earlier this season prior to his injury. Over Brown’s seven games played this season, he averages seven receptions and 76 receiving yards per game, which is only one yard less than alpha receiver CeeDee Lamb. After Brown does some damage, Hopkins will be able to capitalize on softer coverage in the second half.

 

Eliminate Rhamondre Stevenson

My fellow fantasy players might not like to hear this one, but the Cardinals must bottle up Rhamondre Stevenson in order to give themselves a chance to win. If you were to ignore Stevenson’s bad game versus the New York Jets in Week 11, Stevenson averages 4.85 yards per carry, which is just ridiculous. The 4.85 yards per carry would rank seventh among all starting running backs. Mac Jones has been average at best this season, and typically feeds off the run game with play-action passes and dump downs. By keeping eight defenders in the box and discouraging the Patriots from running the ball, Jones won’t have a choice but to stand in the pocket and throw all game long.  Jones currently has one interception for every touchdown thrown this season, and the Cardinals would be highly likely to pick Jones off in this scenario.   

 

Be Unpredictable

The Patriots have one of the best defenses in the league. They are essentially top 10 in every defensive category across the board, and their stingy defense leads to good offensive possessions for the Patriots. The Cardinals will need to use every trick play and creative measures they have available. Flea flickers, double-reverse, quarterback draws, jailbreak screens, you name it.  Keep this defense unbalanced and never let them get comfortable. Kyler Murray excels when he can break a few runs and then sling it while rolling out.  As previously mentioned, the Cardinals are on the brink of being eliminated from the playoffs. Every coaching staff in the NFL has a handful of highly unique plays that they like to keep in their back pocket in case of emergency late in games or in the playoffs. Kliff Kingsbury’s job is on the line, let’s make that very clear, and he’s going to need every good play in the playbook to pull this one out. By keeping the defense unbalanced, the Cardinals will be able to get the ball into their playmakers hands in a multitude of ways, avoiding double-teams and stacked boxes. 

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