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‘Monday Night Football’ picks and open thread: Patriots at Cardinals

Mac Jones and the Pats visit Kyler Murray and the Cardinals

New England Patriots vs Arizona Cardinals Set Number: X163469

The Arizona Cardinals are set to host the New England Patriots for a Monday Night Football showdown that has some serious playoff implications. The 6-6 Patriots are currently on the outside looking in at a postseason berth, as the AFC East has been a powerhouse this year; as it stands right now, AFC East teams hold the 1st, 6th, and 7th seeds, and with Sunday’s results the Patriots can take the last wild card over the New York Jets with a win tonight. Mac Jones and the Patriots are in must-win mode, as they still have road games against the Las Vegas Raiders and Buffalo Bills, as well as home dates with the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins; the 4-8 Cardinals may be the easiest remaining game on their schedule.

The Arizona Cardinals, on the other hand, are one loss away from guaranteeing their second losing record under Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray; following an 11-6 season in 2021 and a playoff appearance, the Cards have regressed in almost every way possible. For this reason, it isn’t entirely surprising that DraftKings Sportsbook has the Patriots opening as nearly 3-point favorites on the road. Still, they aren’t technically eliminated from playoff contention; of the four teams who currently rank above them in the playoff pecking order, only the Washington Commanders actually have a winning record.

This is the team that ranks 30th and 27th in Football Outsiders’ weighted offensive and defensive DVOA, respectively. Their only victories this season have been over the Raiders, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, and LA Rams. The Patriots, meanwhile, have admittedly struggled at times with inconsistent quarterback play, but they also swept the New York Jets and shut out the Detroit Lions. Their defense ranks 2nd in weighted DVOA, and they are allowing just under 19 points per game, according to ESPN. Still, with the San Francisco 49ers and LA Rams both dealing with volatility at the QB position, Arizona has an long-shot, outside chance of turning this season around. Will they start this week? No.

The Pick: Under 44 points, Patriots win straight up and cover the spread