Cincinnati At New England: 5 Things To Know
This is one of those games that should have been circled on the NFL calendar for months.
While Andrew Luck is clearly the quarterback to replace the older guard, who will stand next to him and take his place amongst the best in the NFL? Names like Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford come to mind. But we are all waiting for Andy Dalton to make his move.
This season appears to be the one where he turned the corner.
Whether it is the new contract he signed in the offseason or the new offense Hue Jackson has designed, these Bengals are flying high.
The Patriots, however, appear to be in a tailspin.
Can Tom Brady grab lightning in a bottle and turn his team’s fortunes around? It looks like the team of the past two decades is beginning to crumble.
Here are five things to know about this game.
ANOTHER TEST FOR THE BENGALS
Based on a story from cincyjungle.com, this is another test that faces this franchise this season.
The Bengals head to New England for a significant game against the Patriots that will undoubtedly hold major implications later this year -- conference record is a tie-breaker for the division and wild card. However, head-to-head is a tie-breaker for seeding and the difference between a bye week or wild card weekend.
The New England Patriots (who are scheduled to play the Monday Night game against the Chiefs) are an early 2.5-point favorite against the Bengals. Don't worry, Cincinnati is 3-0 against the spread this year... largely because they've won every game they've played.
BURFICT LIKELY OUT
The Pro Bowl linebacker still hasn't received clearance to return to practice after suffering a concussion two weeks ago against the Falcons.
Making matters worse, it was his second concussion in the span of eight days, after Burfict had one in the opener against Baltimore. The Bengals may be willing to play it safe and not play Burfict this week vs. New England.
Wide receiver Marvin Jones also missed practice Thursday after being held out Wednesday with what was called a tweaked ankle. He too is looking unlikely vs. the Pats after missing much of the past two months after breaking his foot in training camp.
It is possible starting guard Kevin Zeitler may not play as well on Sunday.
HIGH PRAISE FOR THE OPPONENT
Patriots coach Bill Belichick does not have much to say, but when he does, people do listen.
This is what he said on cincyjungle.com.
"It's been a while since I've seen a team that's as complete as they are – even going back the past (years), (when) they've been a playoff team," said Belichick. "Watching them through training camp, they're really a good football team. [They're] strong in all areas of the game: offense, defense, special teams. I think they've got an excellent approach to the game as an overall team. They play to it and they do it consistently and they've done it consistently."
DOBSON WILL NOT PLAY
The Patriots seem like a team without an identity. There isn’t the snap or visible fire in the team it usually displays. The receivers are below standard and the news of Aaron Dobson not active for the contest is proof there is turmoil in the franchise.
According to deadspin.com, Dobson is riding the pine because he has run on the wrong side of Josh McDaniels.
Dobson was decent last year as one of the three rookie receivers the Pats drafted or signed to try and give Tom Brady some weapons, tallying 37 catches for 519 yards in 12 games. Yet he's been inactive in Weeks 1, 3, and 4, and the Patriots dressed just three true wideouts Monday night, even though Dobson, who underwent foot surgery in the offseason, hasn't been listed on a single injury report this year (and Bill Belichick lists everyone).
Cincinnati is not the only undefeated team in the AFC for nothing. I picked the Bengals to be the Super Bowl representative for a reason. Playing the best of the best is how you make your move in football. The Bengals are a team on the move.
The Patriots are not. These are teams moving in opposite directions.
In matchups like this, the cream rises to the top. Andy Dalton is rising. Tom Brady is falling.
BENGALS 33 PATRIOTS 27