Patriots kickoff against Arizona
The National Football League and 31 of its 32 owners got what they wanted: the New England Patriots beginning the 2016 season at a distinct disadvantage; without quarterback Tom Brady, who will be sidelined for a quarter of the season. Brady, who is serving a four-game suspension for his alleged role in Deflategate, will return on Sunday, Oct. 9 to play in the team’s fifth game on the road against the Cleveland Browns.
“I’ll be cheering like hell,” said Brady, following the Patriots final preseason game against the Giants, in which he started, playing 39 snaps.
While Brady watches from home, the Patriots will kick-off the season this Sunday, Sept. 11 at 8:30 p.m. in Arizona against the Cardinals with backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm. Garoppolo, making the very first start of his career, will have weapons in the Gronk, new tight end edition Martellus Bennett and wideout Julian Edelman, but will be facing a solid defense that boasts stellar All-Pro cornerback Patrick Petersen, as well as former Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones.
On the flipside of the matchup, Carson Palmer and the Cardinals offense will face the Patriots defense, which is led by standout linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower, that was dominant during preseason. If preseason play is indicative of what’s to come, then the Patriots front seven should be able to put consistent pressure on Palmer, forcing him to make mistakes.
The question will be whether the Patriots can generate a rushing attack, or short passing game under Garoppolo’s leadership. If Garoppolo can simulate what Brady did earlier in his career when he was more of a game manager, then the Patriots should be able to survive until Brady returns.
Score: Patriots 23, Cardinals 20
The game will be telecast on Sept. 11 as NBC’s Sunday Night game at 8:30 p.m.