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Patriots vs Cardinals Week 14 Preview

C/O Eastern Maine Sports

It's the home stretch of the 2022 NFL Season, the playoffs are on the horizon where 14 lucky teams will battle it out for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The Pats are hoping to be one of those 14 teams but a lot needs to happen first and fast.

The Patriots enter this Week 14 Monday Night Football matchup at 6-6, last place in the AFC East and one game behind the New York Jets for the 7th and final playoff spot in the AFC. Patriots aren't out of the picture right now but a lot needs to happen this week for their playoff hopes to increase. A Jets loss on Sunday would be beneficial, but a win on Monday Night will really help.

Last week we saw an animated Mac Jones for the first time in his young career. As cameras picked up last week during the Pats 24-10 loss on Thursday Night Football to the Buffalo Bills. It appears to have shown Jones calling-out offensive play caller Matt Patricia on the lack of aggressiveness in the play calling. Jones appears to have been calling out Matt Patricia for calling roughly 70% run plays. In all fairness, the lack of an actual offensive coordinator has hurt Jones' progression this season, while at the same time Jones hasn't particularly played up to his potential either. He has limited the turnovers in recent weeks and has been slowly improving since he has come back from injury.

If the Patriots want any chance to climb back into the playoff race and make some type of magical run, the play calling needs to improve and fast or else the last 5 games could be longest five weeks for the tenure of Bill Belichick. Rumors going around say his future could be in doubt, but let's not read into this too much right now.

The Arizona Cardinals are fresh off their bye week as they enter the contest 4-8, with little to no shot at the playoffs. Mathematically there is still a path to the playoffs for the Cardinals but it's unlikely and seems that they're are looking forward to 2023 with a lot of question marks. Arizona started off hot last season 7-0, but then ended up losing 7 or their final 11 games including their playoff loss to the Rams in the Wild Card game. This season has been more or less a disaster for the Cardinals; all the rumors about Kyler Murray and his contract drama over the offseason and the inconsistencies on offense and the defense has had their struggles.

This is a game which on paper says the Patriots should win. Arizona's defense ranks near the bottom tier of the league while the offense is not any better; they have the 20th ranked offense. Plus the Pats have some more talent on both sides of the ball. While that is true, New England's offense ranks 24th in the league while the Pats defense ranks in the top 10. New England ranks third in the league in sacks with 39 total. This should be a game in which the Pats will limit the Cardinals offensively but the Patriots offense will need to take control. The Pats have given the ball away 17 times this season while the defense has 19 takeaways. The Cardinals have given the ball away 13 times while their defense has 14 takeaways of their own.

The Pats will be once again dealing with a Quarterback who can make plays with his legs in Murray with arm strength in there as well. However, unlike Josh Allen who used every bit of his frame; Kyler Murray's height of 5' 10" does limit him in a lot deep ball attempts; it's not that he isn't capable of making the plays, he absolutely can, however he is at a disadvantage when it comes to reading the coverage deep down field. This is a game where the Patriots secondary should be able to play the middle of the field and use man coverage. DeAndre Hopkins is going to be one tough man to contain but take him out of the game to force Murray to his second and third options, pats should be able to have an easy day on defense.

Offense should be simple. Throw the ball and be aggressive. The Pats have the 20th ranked passing offense in the NFL. The Cardinals have the 24th ranked passing defense in the NFL; this should be a game in which the passing game can come alive. You can still get Ramondre Stevenson involved in the passing game but cannot be afraid to take shots. On third and short, be aggressive. Third and long, be aggressive. In the red zone, be aggressive. The play calling has to be spot on especially in critical opportunities. Also, the Cardinals rank 10th in the NFL in defending the run. Allowing 110.8 rush yards per game. Again, 24th ranked passing defense; averaging 245.4 passing yards a game. Passing the ball should be the biggest part of the game plan in order to keep pace in the AFC Playoffs.

The Patriots have just five games left on the schedule; they need roughly every one of these games. Their four weeks after the Cardinals are against the Raiders, Bengals, Dolphins and Bills. A lot on the line and now next weeks game will have more meaning if you win or lose because the Raiders will either have the same record as you or you'll be a game up on them. It all starts Monday night in the desert.

Remaining games:

Week 14: 12/12 @ Cardinals at 8:15 pm on ESPN

Week 15: 12/28 @ Raiders at 4:05 pm on FOX - (originally scheduled for SNF; flexed out for NYG-WAS)

Week 16: 12/24 vs Bengals at 1:00 pm on CBS

Week 17: 1/1/23 vs Dolphins at 1:00 pm on CBS

*Week 18: 1/8/23 @ Bills TBD on CBS

*game will be played at either 1:00 or 4:25 pending on if game has playoff implications

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