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Cardinals vs. Patriots: ‘Monday Night Football’ game pick and open thread

Can Arizona pull the upset and knock the Patriots further back in the division and playoff races?

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Monday Night Football is here, and should be more exciting than one would think. We have this year’s superstar team of HBO’s Hard Knocks series, the Arizona Cardinals, hosting the New England Patriots. Both teams are at the bottom of their divisions, and looking for wins for different reasons. The Patriots are still in the hunt for the playoffs, and the Cardinals want to save their head coach and general manager’s jobs.

The Cardinals have been wildly disappointing this year. Some fans of the team argue that wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins’ six-game suspension to start the season is the reason for the team’s slow start and lack of offensive success. But the Cardinals traded for Hollywood Brown to hold down the fort until Hopkins was able to return. Quarterback Kyler Murray has been less than impressive, and seemingly unworthy of the contract extension the team gave him in the offseason. Defensively, J.J. Watt can still make plays, but he isn’t the big man on campus anymore. Rising star safety Budda Baker is consistently the best player on Arizona’s roster, but he doesn’t get the help from his team that would result in overall success.

The Patriots are coming off of a loss to our beloved Buffalo Bills two Thursdays ago, and hope to be rested and healthy for this game. The last time we saw quarterback Mac Jones, he was visibly frustrated, yelling at his coaching staff about the play call selection. They rarely threw the ball downfield against the Bills, even when they were down. It would appear that the coaching staff doesn’t trust Jones to lead the offense. Running back Rhamondre Stevenson has been one of my favorite players to watch all year. When the offense flows through him, they are successful. We’ll see how the Patriots attack the defense of the Cardinals. On the other side of the ball, the Patriots have a very good defense led by Matthew Judon, who will be called on tonight to help slow down Murray and Hopkins.

My expectations for this game are low for both teams, so it was painful to make a pick. I love the Cardinals, but I haven’t seen enough from them this year to make me believe they can beat a team with a very good defense. The Patriots don’t have a great offense, but they can get things going if they use Stevenson properly. That’s what I expect them to do. I’m going with the Patriots — who are favored by 2.5 points, per DraftKings Sportsbook — to win and cover the spread on the road.