Well, ladies and gentlemen, the time has come whether we like it or not. The Jimmy G Tour officially kicks off this Sunday night. Is it fair? Absolutely not. Is it right? Absolutely not. But a wise man once said, you play the cards you’re dealt (no pun intended). Quarterback isn’t the only question on Sunday, however, as the Pats come in with a laundry list of them. Does Bennett step up in Gronk’s absence? Can Mason go the whole game with a cast? Who starts at tackle: Waddle or Fleming? Is Marcus Cannon as solid as he showed in the preseason? Will we see a run heavy attack? Most importantly though, how’s the synthetic weed in Arizona?
Well, that answers that.
Jokes aside, Arizona appears legit. They’ve added our old friend Chandler Jones (above) and stud rookie Robert Nkemdiche to the front 7 to complement an already stacked secondary, in hopes to provide a “high” level of pass rush. Speaking of that secondary, Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, and even Deone Bucannon are three of the very best in the business. On offense, we all know what Larry Fitz can do, but keep an eye out for two explosively talented youngsters: running back David Johnson and wideout John Brown. To make matters more difficult, Belichick won’t just be able to roll out of bed and coach circles around Bruce Arians, who is arguably a top 5 shot caller in the game right now, and admittedly in my personal top 3. He brings it week in and week out.
Add all of that up, and our Pats are big-time underdogs this weekend, a feeling we’re certainly not accustomed to, but one you just have to love. No one feels bad for us; if you believe one thing you read here, believe that.
In Belichick We Trust. Revenge Tour 2.0 starts Sunday.
Let’s take it around the room for a BBS breakdown…
New England Props
Jimmy Garoppolo: Over/Under 220 yards passing?
Niko: This is a roundtable first. No Brady, no 300, no over. Jimmy may struggle a bit in this environment against this defense. Plus, I do think there will be a bit of an effort to run the ball. UNDER.
Pete: There is no question about it, I think that this is going to be a tough day for Jimmy Garoppolo. Out of the four games that he will play as the starter for the New England Patriots in TB12's absence, this is by far the toughest defense he will face. However, the Patriots have so many different weapons on offense, that I think you could throw Jordan out there and he could throw for 220 yards. OVER.
Jordan: Like Pete said, even with Gronk out this offense is so stacked that an out of shape 16-year-old kid who's never played a snap of organized football should be able to throw for 220. The only issue is, not only is Gronk out, but two of the regulars in the offensive line are out as well. The absence of Solder and Cooper is bigger than the absence of Gronk this week in my opinion. I expect Jimmy G to get hurried a lot. I still see him going OVER, but not by much.
LeGarrette Blount: Over/Under 55 yards rushing?
Niko: I’m going to cautiously say OVER here. It won’t be particularly pretty or efficient, but if Big LB can grind out some tough yards and keep the chains moving, it will do a lot for the play action, and, in turn, a lot for Jimmy G. Blount needs to have a big first month for this offense.
Pete: Gotta take the OVER again here. With Jimmy G under center and not Tom Brady, I would not be surprised to see the Patriots try to establish the run early in this game, even if they are not able to pick up a ton of yards. Additionally, Blount was a MONSTER in the preseason, as he looks more energized and healthy than last season.
Jordan: LeGarrette Blount looks healthier and faster than he has in recent years and was an absolute BEAST this summer. LB is going to have to step up in the absence of TB12 in the first month, so I'm going to say OVER here too.
James White: Over/Under 45 yards from scrimmage?
Niko: OVER here for James. Expect him to catch 5-6 balls and break one on Sunday as Jimmy’s blanket.
Pete: UNDER. White will get his fair share of receptions, but he simply isn't talented enough to make guys miss in the open field on wheel routes or screen passes.
Jordan: UNDER for one reason; White is no Dion Lewis. My elaboration on this is White simply isn't as elusive and fast as Dion. Sure he will get his receptions and even a few rushes, I just don't see him eclipsing the 45 yard total.
Julian Edelman: Over/Under 6.5 catches, 62 receiving yards?
Niko: Going to roll with slightly UNDER on both here. JE and Jimmy still have some work to do on the chemistry side of things, and a Mathieu matchup probably looms.
Pete: I am really interested to see how Edelman comes out after missing so much time with various injuries. Will he be like a bat out of hell like usual or will he try to come out more conservative in order to prolong his career? I choose the first option. OVER.
Jordan: It's going to be close either way, but I'm going to go with UNDER here. Jimmy didn't have a lot of in-game reps throwing to Jules and it seemed like they weren't on the same page. The chemistry hopefully got better during practice, but I still don't see them being in sync.
Martellus Bennett: Over/Under 3.5 catches, 39 receiving yards?
Niko: All eyes on Bennett this weekend. No Gronk, no problem? Not sure about that, but Bennett will hit these marks. OVER on both.
Pete: With so much attention going to guys like Edelman and Amendola, I think that Bennett could quietly have a big day. Gronk may not be in this game, but Bennett is still one of the more talented tight ends in football. That being said, Bennett did not look great in the preseason, and even appear disinterested. That won't fly in New England. OVER.
Jordan: No Gronk this week, so Bennett is going to be targeted a lot. On the contrary to my point on Edelman, Bennett and JG looked really good together this Summer. Seemed to be the most reliable target that Jimmy G had at times. OVER on both by a large margin.
Carson Palmer: Over/Under 259 yards passing?
Niko: I think Carson has some struggles in this ballgame. When you get him off his spot, he’s a guy we’ve seen make mistakes in critical moments. I’m going to go UNDER here, but he should be close.
Pete: I hate Carson Palmer with a burning passion, and his comments about Tom Brady and Deflategate earlier this week only added fuel to the fire. Palmer is a decent starting quarterback in the NFL, but people, especially national media guys, act like he is a top five quarterback. Palmer has, and always will, crap his pants in the face of pressure. UNDER, loser.
Jordan: Like Pete said, Carson Palmer craps himself in the pressure cooker. And I think he pissed off a lot of guys on New England with his comments about the GOAT and DeflateGate. I expect Palmer to have a very poor performance. UNDER.
David Johnson: Over/Under 100 yards from scrimmage?
Niko: This kid’s a stud. Outside, off tackle, up the middle, it doesn’t matter. Not to mention out of the backfield as a receiving threat. OVER for DJ. Expect him to put up numbers this season.
Pete: I am interested to see how the Patriots cover DJ. Could Jamie Collins "spy" him for the game and essentially eliminate him from this game, at least as a receiver? Or will BB decide to play more zone and just hope for the best? I am going to go OVER, regardless.
Jordan: Like Niko said, Johnson is a monster and is a multi-threat out of the backfield with his running ability and his ability to catch. OVER, definitely.
Larry Fitzgerald: Over/Under 6.5 catches, 69 receiving yards?
Niko: Impossible not to respect Larry Fitzgerald. Back in the dark days of ‘Zona, I thought he’d make a very interesting trade target and would have looked fantastic catching dimes from TB…But I digress… Going to go just barely UNDER here on both for LF. I think our secondary does a commendable job on Fitz Sunday night.
Pete: I love Larry Fitzgerald. I remember the rumors a few years back of him possibly joining the Patriots and went to sleep with Randy Moss-type of dreams. That being said, Fitzgerald isn't the same guy that he was a few years back, and the Patriots have one of the deepest secondaries that I have seen from them in awhile. UNDER on both.
Jordan: Larry Fitzgerald is the man, Mr. Reliable. But I don't see him quite reaching the yards. He's going to get those receptions easily in my opinion, but on a lot of short yardage situations. OVER on receptions, UNDER on yards.
Michael Floyd: Over/Under 4.5 catches, 59 receiving yards?
Niko: UNDER on catches for Floyd, but OVER on yards. One of these guys will almost certainly break one.
Pete: UNDER on both. Sure, one guy may have a big game, but I don't think it will be Floyd.
Jordan: I'm going UNDER on receptions and OVER on yards as well. I too see him breaking off a big play.
John Brown: Over/Under 4.5 catches, 59 receiving yards?
Niko: OVER here on both for Brown, who could very well rise above his veteran counterparts this season as Palmer’s favorite target.
Pete: Again, I just don't see one guy having a huge day for the Cardinals. I don't trust Carson Palmer and I think the Cardinals are wildly overrated. UNDER.
Jordan: John Brown is another one of those guys who looks to be ready for a breakout year. He was really good last year and can only continue to build on that. OVER on both.
Niko: Arizona starting rookie cornerback Brandon Williams vs. Patriot wideouts/tight ends/running backs. The weak link of Zona’s secondary should be targeted early and often in this one. It doesn’t matter who is across from him, Jimmy should be looking his way. If Williams answers the call, it could be a very tough day for the Patriot offense.
Pete: For me, it is whoever is covering Edelman. If you are the Cardinals, do you put Patrick Peterson in the slot and render him useless, aside from covering Edelman? Do you risk putting Tyrann Mathieu on him, fresh off a knee injury? The Cardinals will have to do something, because Edelman has the ability to tear this defense apart and move the chains.
Jordan: My key matchup is Jimmy G vs. himself. During the preseason, he looked terrified of making a ballsy throw and often held on to the ball too long. That can't happen against a defense as good as Zona's. If Jimmy G can get out of his own way, the Patriots could gain a significant advantage.
Niko: : Pats’ defense sacks Carson Palmer five times, and forces two game changing interceptions.
Pete: My bold prediction, which may not be that bold, is that the Arizona Cardinals come out and look like a pile of white, hot, dog crap. They have been hyped as the greatest thing since sliced bread this entire offseason, now it is time to put your money where your mouth is. They may win the game; they may even blow the Patriots out. However, to start the game, they are going to be extremely tight.
Jordan: To go with my key matchup, Jimmy G plays with confidence and has a really clean game. May still throw a pick, but otherwise looks really good and calms Pats fans down, myself included. JG throws for 250 yards and 2 TDs.
Game Total: Over/Under 47 points?
Niko: UNDER. All day long. TB12 isn’t walking through that door and both defenses are legit. I wouldn’t be surprised if the first team to 20 wins this ballgame.
Pete: If you are a Patriots fan, you better be praying for the UNDER. Surprisingly, I think the defenses keep both these powerful offenses at bay for the majority of the game.
Jordan: The only way the Patriots stand a chance is if this game isn't a shootout. I'm going to go with UNDER here because both teams have very talented defenses.
Final Prediction: (Arizona -6)
Niko: Look, things don’t look good. No Brady. No Gronk. No Solder. Those are catastrophic absences. A herculean effort from the defense is what we need, and a herculean effort from the defense is what we’ll get. Give me the points. No, you know what, give me the money line. 20-17 Pats cause why not.
Pete: I am the biggest Patriots homer ever, but even I am thinking hard about picking the Cardinals. With that being said, this line is out of control. A couple of days ago, it was at six, and now it is at nine and a half. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME THE PATRIOTS WERE A FULL TOUCHDOWN PLUS UNDERDOGS? No shot Arizona covers the spread. You know what? Screw it. Pats are taking this one and putting the rest of the league on notice. 23-20 Pats.
Jordan: With all of these injuries coming on the offensive side of the ball, the defense is still relatively healthy and able to play. The Pats defense is going to play out of their minds in a medium-scoring game. Pats take this one 20-14.