The New England Patriots travel to Glendale, Ariz., to open their regular-season schedule against the Arizona Cardinals as 6 1/2-point underdogs Sunday night at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
New England, already without the suspended Tom Brady, also will be without Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski due to a hamstring injury. Gronkowski had 11 touchdowns for the Pats last season. He suffered his hamstring injury during training camp.
Backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will be under the microscope as he steps in during Brady’s absence for Sunday’s Patriots vs. Cardinals betting matchup at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The 24-year-old has made just 31 career pass attempts since New England selected him in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. But he looked solid while amassing 406 total passing yards and throwing for one touchdown over three preseason appearances.
The Patriots dropped a 20-18 decision the last time these two teams met — four years ago at Gillette Stadium — with the Cardinals picking up the win against the spread as big 13-point underdogs.
That ended a lengthy New England winning streak against Arizona that dated back to 1993 and featured three straight up and ATS victories in the desert, according to the OddsShark NFL Database.
The Patriots also own a strong track record while pegged as betting underdogs, claiming SU wins in six of their past seven such outings, including a pair of road wins over the Buffalo Bills and their 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX.
Despite consistently rewarding bettors in this situation, though, New England can ill afford to take Arizona lightly. The Cardinals are coming off their best season in franchise history, finishing with a 13-3 SU record and reaching the NFC title game.
That has lifted the Cardinals to a strong +550 wager on the odds to claim this year’s NFC conference crown, but they open the season trailing the Seahawks with +140 odds of repeating as the NFC West champions. Arizona is at +1000 on the odds to win Super Bowl LI; the Patriots are at +675.
The Cardinals have been a major betting disappointment on home turf lately, going 1-6 ATS in their past seven home dates, including a 26-20 playoff win over the Green Bay Packers last January as a seven-point favorite at the sportsbooks.
Arizona also endured a tough preseason, averaging just 12.3 points per game in uninspiring losses to the Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers and Houston Texans before the offense found its legs in a 38-17 blowout win over the Denver Broncos.
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