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Patriots vs Cardinals: Keys to the Patriots keeping their playoff hopes alive

Publish Date: 12/11/2022
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

The New England Patriots (6-6) hope to avoid a third straight loss and keep their slimming playoff hopes alive when they travel to Glendale, Arizona to face the Arizona Cardinals (4-8) on Monday Night Football.

In what is shaping up to be the most important game of the season for the Patriots, they have their work cut out facing a Cardinals team that is better than their record indicates. In order to avoid falling below .500, here are the keys to winning for the Patriots.

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Get The Ball Out Quickly

Β Quarterback Mac Jones might not be a fan of this game plan after some choice words during their last Thursday night game against the Buffalo Bills, but the Cardinals defensive tendencies call for the ball to be out quickly. Check out the top football betting strategies.

The Cardinals are second in the league in dialing up blitzes, and they do get to the quarterback. They are second in the league in QB knockdowns and fifth in QB pressures. They also rank tied for fourth in passes batted at the line, so the offensive line will need to do better-cut blocking than they have in recent weeks. The Patriots offensive line is banged up, specifically at both tackle positions, so Jones will need to identify pre-snap where the pressure is coming and find his hot read.

The Patriots receivers will need to do their best Deebo Samuel impersonation and grind out as many yards after the catch as they can against a defense that has allowed the most yards after the catch and is ranked fourth in missed tackles.

Keep Kyler Murray In The Pocket

Β This is much, much easier said than done. Kyler Murray is one of the most athletically gifted quarterbacks we have seen in NFL history. He has the ability to escape the pocket and create game changing plays out of nothing.

However, his passing numbers this season have been below average. His passer rating this season is the lowest of his career, his intended and completed air yards are on track for career lows, and while he has taken care of the ball better than before, he is also making far less plays than we are accustomed to seeing.

The Patriots have struggled to contain the likes of Lamar Jackson and Justin Fields in matchups earlier this season, so it remains unknown whether this defense has the capacity to bottle up Murray.

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All Eyes On DeAndre Hopkins

Β Another game, another top receiver in the league went up against the Patriots defense. Wideouts Justin Jefferson and Stefon Diggs enjoyed their days against the New England secondary, combining for 16 catches, 231 yards, and both reached the end zone.

De facto defensive coordinator Steve Belichick will have his hands full with how to stop DeAndre Hopkins, who has been on a tear this season. Hopkins, who traditionally lines up on the offense’s left side, has been on the move this season. He has played in the slot 26% of the time this season, the third-highest rate of his career and his highest rate since 2019, according to Pro Football Focus. Check out the top football odds.

It will be tougher to double him since he moves around a lot more than usual, so it will be up to cornerbacks Jonathan Jones and rookie Jack Jones. Both corners posted their season-worst PFF grades in coverage, thanks to the incredible route running of Diggs. This week will not be much different against Hopkins. Both Jonathan and Jack will need to bring their A-game for D-Hop.

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