W2W4: New England Patriots (4-1) vs Cincinnati Bengals (2-3)
By Hal Bent
What to watch for when the New England Patriots take the field this afternoon against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The New England Patriots welcomed back future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady with a resounding 33-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns last Sunday. Brady picked-up his strong play with little rust as he completed 28 of 40 passes for 406 yards and three touchdowns.
While the AFC East leading Patriots were beating up on the AFC North cellar dwellers, the NFC East leading Dallas Cowboys had their way with the Cincinnati Bengals. In week five the Bengals–who were 12-4 last season including an 8-0 start to the season–lost their third game of the season as they fell behind the Cowboys early and never challenged.
Cincinnati is looking at their road trip to Foxboro as the turning point of their season. They have home games against the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins before their bye week and then face the Giants, Bills, Ravens and Eagles. A loss to the Patriots could put the Bengals out of the AFC North race as Pittsburgh has already sprinted out to the lead with a 4-1 record and still have the Dolphins and two games against the Browns on their schedule.
The only wins for the Bengals have been feeding on the weak in the AFC East. They edged the Jets by one point in week one and crushed the Dolphins on a Thursday night game in week four. The Steelers and Broncos had their way with the Bengals and last week the Cowboys went ahead 28-0 before hitting cruise control for the entire fourth quarter.
A desperate team used to winning and being in the playoffs, the Bengals are trying to find the answers as to why they are struggling in 2015. They need to win this week. However, they face Brady and a Patriots offense which is looking to build upon a strong win over the Browns and build momentum for big games upcoming against Pittsburgh, Buffalo and then Seattle after the week nine bye week.
So without further delay, let’s get to the match-ups, the keys to to the game, and a look at both teams in Tom Brady’s first home game of 2016: