Patriots Game Day - Week 2 Observations

<p>The Pats are expected to roll over the Cards this week on their way to continuing their consecutive winning streak. With the Pat Tillman story being an important motivation for the Cards, we're not so sure it'll be the cakewalk pundits have it pegged as. Get inside to read today's take on what will happen.</p>

New England Patriots vs Arizona Cardinals

CBS 4:15 Eastern (TV Guide) Don Criqui and Steve Tasker
Radio (Patriots Radio Network), (Cardinals Radio)

The Patriots have won 16 consecutive games (post season included), and are on pace to move into a tie for second at 17 with the 1976-77 Oakland Raiders, should they win today's game against the Cardinals.

Last Matchup:

October 31, 1999 Patriots 27 - Cardinals 3

The Cardinals are one of three teams the Bill Belicheck era Patriots have not played. The other two are the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks. (Both are on this years schedule)

The Series:

The Cardinals and the Patriots have played just 11 times in their history. The Cardinals hold an overall edge in the series of 6-4. The Patriots have won the last three games. The Patriots record against the St. Louis Cardinals is 1-4 while their record against the Sundevil version is 3-2.


Today the Cardinals will honor the memory of Pat Tillman, former S for the Cardinals, who gave up his life as an NFL player and a change to earn $3.6 million to volunteer with his brother for the US Army. The Tillmans both joined the Army with the hopes of becoming US Army Rangers, that elite combat unit reserved for only the best of soldiers. Both Pat and his brother made the grade as Rangers. Unfortunately, Tillman was killed in action in Afghanistan.

Tillmans memory has become legend, and if you don't already know the story, just do a quick search online, and you'll find hundreds of stories about the Player turned soldier, and his commitment to his country after the horrendous events of 9-11.

The Tillman memorial can be found here:

The Pat Tillman Foundation
PO Box 20053
San Jose, CA 95160

How they Match Up:

The New England Patriots had a rough time on defense last week trying to stop Peyton Manning and crew in the season opener at Foxboro. Luckily, the Patriots have the Colts number in Foxboro, and managed to hold off Peyton's crew long enough for Willie McGinest to get to the app pro QB sacking him and making what should have been a chip shot FG into a more difficult 47 yard attempt for Mike Vanderjagt. Vanderjagt then went on to miss the FG leaving the Patriots with the win.

The one thing that had Patriots fans concerned last week, was the inability of the normally sound Patriots run defense to stop the Colts rushing attack. With a larger than life offensive line, and a hall of fame bound running back, expect the Arizona Cardinals to try to attack the Patriots Defense in the same way the Indianapolis Colts did. On the ground.

What the Cardinals do not have though, is an experienced, and savvy all pro QB under center, to make those last second adjustments typically needed to protect himself on passing downs. Josh McCown. McCown who's last minute heroics are best noted from the Cardinals game last season where he hit Nate Poole on a 4th and 25 for a 28 yard touchdown, capping an improbable win that was observed in Green Bay with an eruption of enthusiasm as Minnesota was eliminated with the Gift from the gods (McCown and Poole).

The Cardinals will continue to try to pound the ball down the throats of the Patriots as long as the score remains reasonable. With this attitude, first year coach Dennis Greene hopes to wear down the Patriots defense in the desert. Yet, the weather is expected to be a relatively cool 89, cool that is for Tempe AZ.

The Patriots however, will work on the troubles they had stopping the run last week by running stunts with the LBs, rotating DLs to keep them fresh and by getting the linebacking corp more involved in scheming against the Cards game plan. The Pats will have Tedy Bruschi roaming the middle, and Rosevelt Colvin and Roman Phifer adding to the quality unit to provide run support while being wary of McCown's ability to run, something Manning wasn't much of a threat to do.

The Patriots pass defense was challenged last week when Dallas Clark was able to run down the seam to get wide open on mismatches against the pats LB corp. When he wasn't open, Brandon Stokley was able to find open ground in the same seam. This is something the Cards will also try to do, but they don't have the same staff to pull it off. With no Marvin Harrison to require double coverage the Pats secondary will be able to cover the middle better.

The Cardinals do have offensive weapons like WR Larry Fitzgerald (1st round '04) and fellow WR Bryant Johnson (1st round '03) who will both be able to challenge the Patriots secondary. Add to the mix, Nate Poole and RB Emmitt Smith, and the Patriots have real potential for trouble on the defense.

On offense, it's a different story.

The Patriots offense seems to be clicking on all cylinders again this year, looking like they never had an off season. With RB Corey Dillon in the backfield, the threat is always there that he'll be able to rip off another 38 yard burst like he did in the opener. This Patriots team looks sound on offense. The WR corp, while possibly missing WR Try Brown for a second week, still has speed and experience in Bethel Johnson the burner, and David Patten, who rebounded nicely from an injury plagued 2003. Add to that mix both David Givens and Deon Branch, and you're looking at the Patriots game plan... Throw and throw often, setting up the throw with the run.

The Cardinals defense is a quick and aggressive unit. With the Cardinals ability to draft in the top of each round for years, the team has stockpiled a ton of talent on both sides of the ball. The players have skill, it's up to the new coaching staff to get the most out of them.

What's Gonna Happen:

The Patriots will try to continue to take advantage of their depth at the WR position and throw a lot. They will look to set things up with the run and if they build a lead, you'll see a lot more of Corey Dillon this week than last.

The Cardinals will try to do whatever it takes to cover those WR's and stack the line on occasion to prevent Dillon from returning to the all pro form he had during his time as a Cincinnati Bengal. While they have the speed to stop the occasional WR end around Charlie Weiss like to run, they may not be experienced to tell which angle the attack is going to come from.

Expect the Patriots to build a slow and methodical lead in this game. Once they have it they will grind out the clock to get out of Arizona with a win.

The game is listed as an 8-point spread, but we think it's a tough call.


Patriots win, but it's close for most of the game

See also:
Chris. The Impaler's Week 2 Against the Spread

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