Sep 29, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Boyce (82) stiff arms Atlanta Falcons cornerback Robert Alford (23) after a catch in the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Patriots won 30-23. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Based off of last week’s performances you’d have to think the Patriots have an easy win on the road in Cincinnati. However, the NFL doesn’t work that way. Cleveland’s defense is underrated and played extremely well last week. Cincinnati’s defense had some turnovers and still the offense struggled to put up points.
The home field advantage is big in this game more so because the Patriots are not at home as opposed to the Bengals playing in Cincinnati. All teams seem to get up to play the Patriots as they are a measuring stick for where your team is. Teams that beat the Patriots feel like they can play with the best teams in the league. Also, since the Bengals are coming of a loss, they are sure to be more focused for this game.
I’m assuming that Gronkowski and Amendola are out again, and that Dobson is also sidelined. This means Josh Boyce needs to get into the mix, and I’m not sure what to expect from him. Also, this will be the first defensive game plan devised without Vince Wilfork, so it will be interesting to see if the Patriots can stifle ‘the Law Firm’ from gashing them in the run game.
With all that uncertainty, I predict the Patriots win a close game:
Prediction: New England Patriots 24 – Cincinnati Bengals 19
Sep 29, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) makes a catch as Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden (23) defends during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns beat the Bengals 17-6. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
The Patriots are once again on the road, this time in Cincinnati against a very tough, physical Bengals team, that’s coming off a tough loss to the Cleveland Brown. The Patriots will hope to lock up the two most explosive players for the Bengals, in Giovanni Bernard and AJ Green. We all know who’s going to be manning up on Green, that will be Aqib Talib. Talib was marvelous against the Falcons and Julio Jones and Roddy White only allowing 1-10 passes for only a yard and an interception. AJ Green is going to be just as tough as matchup, as I believe that Green is in fact the better player of the two young superstar wideouts. Gio Bernard is going to be a little tougher to handle, but hopefully the Patriots will be able to contain him from making any big plays to the outside, and even force him to stay inside and help pass block by getting pressure on Andy Dalton. When it comes to Dalton, you know he’s going to make a mistake here and there, it comes with his gunslinger mentality, so the Patriots will have to take advantage of this when it comes.
As for the offense, I would love to see the Patriots control the game by using their powerful running attack led by the trio of Ridley, Bolden and Blount. All three had very nice games, especially Blount who ripped off a huge run to give the Patriots a 10 point lead against the Falcons at a crucial part of the game. Of course, they do have to face off against a very good defensive line anchored by Michael Johnson and Geno Atkins so it might be wishful thinking to think they dominate this game on the the ground. In reality, I think the Patriots will again have to rely on the passing game to get themselves a lead in this game, I am very confident after what I saw against the Falcons. The Patriots should be able to attack an above average secondary with Kenbrell Thompkins and hopefully Aaron Dobson if he does play after suffering a nasty injury versus the Falcons. Julian Edelman will again be relied on to keep the Patriots from having to convert long third downs. This is of course is assuming we don’t see Danny Amendola or Rob Gronkowski play. At this point in the season, I would like to see these weapons that Brady has at the moment continue to roll, and wait a little longer on those two and make sure they are healthy. My prediction for this game, 31- 24 Patriots, as they move on to 5-0.