Bill Belichick has developed a reputation for neutralizing an opposing offense's star player. The New England Patriots head coach can honor that label by stymieing DeAndre Hopkins on Monday night.
"He’s got tremendous ball skills, catches everything, great hands," Belichick said. "He’s long, so he's never covered. Even if he’s covered, there’s a place the ball can be that he can get it."
He noted Hopkins' strength and ability to create separation and extra yards before placing the 30-year-old among the NFL's elite pass-catchers.
"He’s a smart football player, very savvy," Belichick continued. "His ball skills are at the very elite level with guys I’ve seen in this league. He’s up there with whoever the top guys are -- Cris Carters of the world and guys like that. He’s every bit as good as anybody I’ve ever coached against."
Belichick has faced Hopkins seven times, six during his seven-year tenure with the Houston Texans. Hopkins has averaged 65.4 yards per game. His team only beat Belichick once.
Hopkins has caught 49 of 64 targets for 574 yards and three touchdowns since returning from a six-game suspension. The five-time Pro Bowler has already exceeded last season's receiving tally in four fewer games, but Arizona hasn't turned his production into victories.
The Cardinals fell to 4-8 with back-to-back losses before their Week 13 bye. They likely must win their remaining five games to have any chance of returning to the playoffs.
New England, meanwhile, trails the New York Jets by one game for the AFC's last wild-card spot. The Patriots have the tiebreaker over their division foe with two head-to-head wins, so they could end Week 14 as the No. 7 seed.