New England Patriots (6-6) at Arizona Cardinals (4-8)
The Cardinals were at the top of my overrated teams list coming into the season. They went 11-6 last season, but needed a +12 turnover margin to get to that record, which is not predictive, and they ranked just 14th in overall efficiency, barely above average. They also got a lot worse this off-season, losing starting wide receiver Christian Kirk, top edge defender Chandler Jones, top off ball linebacker Jordan Hicks, top cornerback Robert Alford, and their most efficient running back Chase Edmonds, with their only major addition being former Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown, who cost the Cardinals their first round pick in a trade and who isn’t a significant upgrade on Christian Kirk.
The Cardinals are 4-8 this season, which is definitely a significant decline from last year’s record, but they’ve arguably been even worse than that suggests, still having a +1 turnover margin, despite a -57 turnover margin (27th in the NFL), leading to them ranking just 28th in schedule adjusted efficiency, about six points below average. The Patriots are a middling team, ranking 14th in schedule adjusted efficiency, barely above average, but they should still be favored by more than 1.5 points on the road in Arizona, with my calculated line favoring them by four. This isn’t a big play, in part because the Patriots are expected to be without top receiver Jakobi Meyers, but the Patriots are still worth a bet this week.
New England Patriots 20 Arizona Cardinals 16
Pick against the spread: New England -1.5