Arizona (4-8) are on the brink of elimination from postseason contention in the NFC after four defeats in five, while New England (6-6) eye a wild card spot in the AFC; watch Patriots @ Cardinals, live on Sky Sports NFL and Main Event from 1am on Tuesday (1.15am kick-off)
Last Updated: 12/12/22 12:56pm
Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals are in desperation mode as they entertain the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football, live on Sky Sports NFL.
The Cardinals (4-8) are among the NFL’s biggest underachievers this season and, with five games to go, sit three wins behind the New York Giants (7-5-1), who currently occupy the NFC’s seventh and final playoff spot.
Since only one team in the conference has fewer victories – the Chicago Bears (3-9) – another setback will all but eliminate Arizona from contention and place fourth-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury firmly in the hot seat.
December 13, 2022, 1:00am
However, Cardinals standout safety Budda Baker does not want to have to wave the white flag before it becomes necessary.
“At the end of the day when it’s time to work we work,” Baker, who has a team-best 90 tackles, told reporters ahead of the clash.
“We’ve got five more opportunities. We have to take the best of those opportunities because [the NFL] stands for ‘not for long’. We’ve got to play some good football.”
The Cardinals are into the game against New England off the back of their bye week. However, they have lost two-straight games and six of their last eight, and they will need their star quarterback Murray to heat up if they are to make a late dash for the playoffs.
The fourth-year pro has passed for fewer than 200 yards in each of his last two appearances – he missed two November games due to a hamstring injury – and has a career-worst 6.1 average yards per attempt this season.
He has also received career-high criticism due to his poor performance after receiving a five-year, $230.5m contract extension in the offseason.
“You understand the position that you are in, what comes with it, what you have to face,” Murray said.
“I’m not really new to it. It’s something I’ve been dealing with, not my whole life but for the most part. It doesn’t affect me.”
The Patriots (6-6) have also lost two in a row coming into Monday night’s contest and are experiencing issues of their own.
New England are currently on the outside of the AFC playoff picture, but a victory over the Cardinals will see them share the same record as the New York Jets (7-6) and the Los Angeles Chargers (7-6), with the latter currently occupying the final seventh seed in the conference.
The atmosphere is certainly tense. During a home loss to the Buffalo Bills on December 1, quarterback Mac Jones got heated on the sideline over the lack of deep passing plays being called on offense.
Jones’ play has not been as solid as his 2021 rookie campaign. He passed for 3,801 yards and 22 touchdowns last season; he has 1,963 yards and seven scoring strikes in nine games this year, but believes the Patriots are close to getting their offensive act together.
“We’ve just got to eliminate those [bad plays] at this point,” Jones said. “There are a few plays in every game – a handful of plays that just aren’t very good. Once we can fix those, then everything goes.”
Earlier this week, New England coach Bill Belichick had said it’s too difficult to make major changes to the offense at this point in the season.
That doesn’t sound too promising, considering the Patriots sit 24th in total offense, averaging 318.9 yards per game, and tied for 19th in scoring with 20.8 points per game.
“If we can just do, consistently, what we’re doing, I think we’ll be all right,” said Belichick, whose side have won seven of the past eight meetings with the Cardinals. “We just haven’t been able to have enough consistency – and that’s hurt us.
“It’s not one thing. One time it’s one thing, the next time it’s something else. We just have to play and coach more consistently.”
New England receiver Jakobi Meyers (concussion) was ruled out of the game on Saturday, as was cornerback Jalen Mills (groin) and offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn (foot).
Running back Damien Harris (thigh) is doubtful and offensive tackles Trent Brown (illness) and Yodny Cajuste (calf, back) are questionable.
For Arizona, cornerback Byron Murphy (back), receiver Rondale Moore (groin) and guard Rashaad Coward (chest) will miss the game. Defensive end Zach Allen (illness) and defensive back Charles Washington (chest) are questionable.
Watch New England Patriots @ Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football, live on Sky Sports NFL from 1.15am on Tuesday morning.
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