New England Patriots vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Five Key Matchups

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Sep 21, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back

Giovani Bernard

(25) runs the ball against Tennessee Titans cornerback

Jason McCourty

(30) in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati defeated Tennessee 33-7. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

2. Giovani Bernard vs. Patriots’ Front Seven

Last week the Patriots were gashed by Kansas City’s running game, and they are in danger of getting worked for the second week in a row in this department. Giovani Bernard has quickly emerged as one of the NFL’s most explosive backs, and if that offensive unit gets going early, things could get ugly for New England.

Stopping the run starts and ends with Vince Wilfork, and whoever is starting next to him when the Pats are in a four-man line. Right now Sealver Siliga is out, which really hurts their run defense, but they have to work with the cards they are currently dealt. Usually it is either Chris Jones or Joe Vellano next to Wilfork, and both of them struggled last week in Kansas City.

The defensive line must hold their own at the line of scrimmage, shed their blocks, and tackle the damn ball-carrier. The simple task of wrapping up the running back was their biggest issue against the Chiefs. Luckily, it is also the easiest thing to fix. The entire defense needs to go back and work on their fundamentals, so they come out firing on Sunday night.

Chandler Jones also needs to play much better, specifically when setting the edge. There were a number of instances last week where the Chiefs repeatedly gained chunk yardage when running to Jones’ side because he couldn’t set the edge. Bernard is a fast dude, and if he gets the edge, he is going to have a huge game.