Patriots vs. Cardinals: 3 keys to the game, fun facts, prediction

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Another week, another week of the Patriots facing a mobile quarterback.

One of the most exciting and young QBs in the league — Kyler Murray — will be coming to town along with the high-powered Cardinals offense.

For the third straight week, the Patriots defense will have to try and stop a quarterback who is a threat with both his arms and his legs.

Arizona has the No. 1 ranked offense in terms of total yards and is seventh in points. At 6-4, they are a game behind the Rams and Seahawks in the NFC West, so every game matters the rest of the way.

Meanwhile, if the Patriots have any shot at the postseason they likely have to win out and then get some help.

Cardinals vs. Patriots
Sunday, November 29, 2020
1:00, FOX
Cardinals -1.5, over/under 49

3 keys to the game

Keep Murray in check

After what Deshaun Watson did to the defense last week, stopping Murray should be the No. 1 priority. He’s dealing with a shoulder injury, but was taken off the injury report Friday. While people will focus on DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald (out with COVID), the Arizona offense has the second-best rushing offense in football. Murray is its second-leading rusher, only 30 yards behind Kenyan Drake. This is a big game for the Patriots defense after a bad performance last week in Houston.

Stay turnover free

If the Patriots have any chance of pulling out the win, they once again will have to stay turnover free. The offense has done so for three straight games and they will look to make it four. It’s another week of taking on a unit that doesn’t do so well against the run, as the Cardinals come in at 23rd in the league. We’ll see if the Patriots commit to it more than last week in Houston. It could be a game to try and control the clock and keep Murray and the Cardinals offense off the field as much as possible.

Take advantage of turnovers

On the other side of the field, Arizona has been prone to turning the ball over and when they do, the Patriots need to take advantage. The Cardinals have turnovers in eight of their 10 games. Last week in Houston was the first time the Patriots did not record a takeaway all year, so they are due. As is the case in most weeks, the turnover battle will have a huge impact on the outcome of the game.

Fun Facts

1. Since 1990, 167 teams started the year 4-6 and 13 of them made the playoffs. The average finish of these teams has been 7-9.

2. According to Pro Football Focus, since returning off injured reserve in Week 7, in 166 pass blocks, David Andrews hasn’t allowed a sack of a QB hit.

3. JC Jackson is tied with Kyle Arrington for the second-most takeaways by a Patriot under Bill Belichick. He currently has eight, trailing just Asante Samuel who had 10 in 2006.

4. Damien Harris (3) and Sony Michel (1) have combined for four 100-yard rushing performances so far in 2020, the most for the franchise since 2007 (5).

5. Nick Folk has made 17 consecutive field goals, the third longest streak of his career behind the 23 straight in 2013 and 19 straight made from 2010-11.

Prediction

Patriots 27, Cardinals 24

We’ve been wrong basically all year with our picks, but we just feel an upset coming. The Patriots defense had its worst game of the year last week in Houston and we expect a bounce-back game from them. Offensively, the Patriots could have success on the ground and we’ve seen how much better than are when they do that and are playing from ahead. Just call it a hunch.