Sep 25, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) celebrates the touchdown scored by running back Jeremy Hill (32) against the Denver Broncos in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
WR Brandon LaFell will also make his first appearance at Gillette Stadium for the first time since last season, however, he will be in a different jersey. The Patriots released him last offseason after a disappointing 2015 campaign had him plagued by a nagging foot injury.
Despite their post season struggles, the Bengals have been one of the more consistent winning teams during the regular season as they have improved their record after each season.
Let’s dive into some quick stats:
Bengals record the past 5 seasons:
2011: 9-7 (WC)
2012: 10-6 (WC)
2013: 11-5 (3rd Seed)
2014: 10-5-1 (WC)
2015: 12-4 (3rd Seed)
Patriots all the record vs. the Bengals: 15-9 (Patriots)
Oct 9, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) throws in the pocket in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Cowboys beat the Bengals 28-14. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Patriots Defense vs. Brengals Offense on Third Down
There are other matchups during this game to monitor, such as AJ Green vs. the Patriots Secondary that are important to the outcome of this game. Third Down will certainly be the most watched, and most important here.
Getting off the field on third down is something the Patriots defense has struggled with all season long.The way they has performed, it is somewhat worrisome, but it is still early.
The Bengals on the other hand, have struggled to convert on third down, but are looking to have their star tight end return to the field, which will be a huge boost to their offense.
Not to say this matchup can determine the result of the game, but it will certainly keep the Bengals in the game longer than they should.
Player to Watch
Vontaze Burfict is well known around the league for his questionable antics on the field and has a reputation of being dirty. Knowing the type of player he is automatically makes him a player worth watching. Hopefully he has learned his lesson, however, expect the referees to give him and the Bengals defense a short leash.
The Patriots are able to field 3 dependable safeties on the field at the same time, with 2 of them able to play press-man like a cornerback. This allows them to be versatile.
Usually, the Patriots elect to have Chung on the Tight End, and McCourty and Harmon as the deep safeties, but if needed, McCourty can cover the #2 TE or Slot receiver. It’s likely the Patriots bracket Green with Harmon or McCourty over top, so Chung’s perfomance will be even more important.
If the Patriots can stop any downfield threats from Green, this game will be heavily in the Patriots’ favour.
The Bengals, despite a surprising slow start to the season with 10 sacks, have a strong defensive line led by their Pro-bowl Defensive End Carlos Dunlap and Defensive Tackle Geno Atkins. Depending on Marcus Cannon’s availableity due to his recently injury, Cameron Fleming may have to start at Right Tackle again. Fleming has played well when taking snaps this season, but he will certainly be tested when Dunlap lines up across from him.
Third Down Defense/ Redzone Defense
Last week, the Bengals offense had possession 8 times, and punted 5 times and were 5 of 12 on third down (41%) against the Cowboys. Dallas also got out to a 28-0 lead in the fourth, and the Bengals eventually scored twice in garbage time, but it was far too late. Again, this is something the Patriots will absolutely need to improve, especially with an even bigger test next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense.
The Patriots were called on several penalties last week, and although they may not have cost the Patriots the game, they still need to be playing disciplined football.
If one were to take a look at the Patriots injury report, it definitely may seem a bit concerning.
Sep 18, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches from the sideline as they take on the Miami Dolphins in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
43-17 Patriots (2014)
Coming off their worst loss in recent memory to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Bengals traveled to Foxboro to take on an angry Patriots team led by a “washed” Tom Brady. Heading into this game, the Bengals were undefeated, and there were many questions surrounding whether Brady was done. Some even pointed to Jimmy Garoppolo as a possibly option to start should they lose this game.
Wouldn’t that have been foolish?
The Patriots stormed onto the field and were backed to an electric crowd. The game also started a 7-game win streak against some of the best offenses/defenses in the league. Many would point to this game as the turning point for the Patriots 2014 season.
The Bengals, despite struggling the first 5 games, are still a good team. Their offense takes a hit with TE Tyler Eifert out.
If the Patriots cannot stop this offense, they will definitely struggle against more potent ones this season, especially with a team currently struggling to score points.
There hasn’t been much talk about the Patriots offense vs. the Bengals defense in this article. Well, Brady is set to make his home debut during this game, and will likely be fired up and be playing behind an electric crowd – deja vu?