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.
Keys to The Game
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.
If the Patriots somehow were to lose this game, the most important key to this entire list is to have no injuries this week. An injured team can only go so far (i.e. Patriots 2015 season).