coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
On 09/30/2013 05:03 PM in NFL

New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals: Preview and Pick

New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals: Preview and Pick

The game of the week in the AFC for the NFL week 5 schedule features a big game between the New England Patriots and the Cincinnati Bengals. Both of these teams are off to decent starts and both are being touted as Super Bowl contenders. It would not be surprising that this game would be a preview of the AFC Championship game.

New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals Odds

The NFL betting line for this game opened up with the Bengals as slight one point favorites. Since both of these teams are very good the early betting action is nearly split 50/50 as both of these teams have loyal fan bases. This line can now be found as a pick ‘em at some of the top rated sportsbooks.

After impressive wins over the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, the Bengals stumbled on the road against the rival Cleveland Browns. The usual potent offense went silent against the stout Browns defense. Mike Nugent's two field goals were all the Bengals could muster against Cleveland's swarming defense. Green had seven catches for 51 mostly meaningless yards as Haden blanketed him all afternoon. Andy Dalton will need to do better against the Patriots this weekend.

On the other side of the field the Patriots would love to stay on course for history. Tom Brady now has a touchdown pass in 52 straight games, the second-longest streak in NFL history. The Patriots rushed for 132 yards. Blount led with 64 yards on nine carries, while Ridley chipped in with 53 yards on 11 carries. The running game will only help the Patriots pass well against the Bengals who should be the toughest defense that the Patriots have faced all season.

The latest NFL betting trends for this game reveal some interesting betting angles leading up to kickoff. Cincinnati is 9-3-1 straight up in its last 13 games and that includes a 5-1 record in the last six games at home. The Pats have struggled when visiting the jungle. New England is 3-8 against the spread (ATS) in its last 11 games when playing Cincinnati and they are 2-5 ATS in the last seven games when the game is in Cincinnati. The total has gone under in 5 of Cincinnati's last 6 games at home, but the total has gone over in 4 of New England's last 5 games when playing Cincinnati overall.

This is one game that should live up to the hype this week.

New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals Pick

With plenty of time to go before kickoff, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/01/2013 03:05 PM

New England Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, who is likely headed to season-ending injured reserve, had surgery on his torn right Achilles on Tuesday.

Wilfork left Sunday night's Patriots' 30-23 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the first quarter, limping off the field on the Falcons' first possession. He did not return and was later seen being carted away in a boot.

"It doesn't look too good for Vince," Belichick said Monday during his weekly interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI. "I think he's got a pretty serious injury, and it's probably unlikely that he'll be able to play again this year."

Wilfork, one of the team's captains, is a perennial Pro Bowler and vital cog to the team's defense, particularly against the run.

"Clearly, there are no Vince Wilforks just standing around out there on the corner waiting to sign with the Patriots or some other NFL team," Belichick said on WEEI. "He is a special player, one of the very best at his position. There's no way that you would replace him with one guy -- that's totally unrealistic. But we'll try to do what we can to make our team as competitive as possible with the 46 guys we put out there against Cincinnati this Sunday."

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Patriots allowed 4.1 yards per rush with Wilfork on the field over the past five seasons, which is ninth-best in the NFL. When Wilfork was off the field, the Patriots ranked last in yards per rush allowed (5.0).

"Well, to say we'll miss him is an understatement," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said Monday in a radio interview with Jim Gray. "His presence in the locker room and on the field is really unmatched, so it will be a team effort.

"I know Coach Belichick said there's no Vince Wilforks on the street corner waiting to sign with the Patriots, which is the truth, but we're going to have to find a way to -- in a group effort -- replace such a valuable player."

The Patriots have been thin at defensive tackle since training camp started in late July, in part because Armond Armstead opened on the non-football injury list after undergoing surgery for an infection. Armstead remains on the non-football injury list, leaving the Patriots with Wilfork, fellow veteran Tommy Kelly and rookies Joe Vellano (undrafted) and Chris Jones (sixth-round pick from the Houston Texans claimed on waivers) at defensive tackle.

"Obviously Vince is a huge asset to our team not only on the field, but off the field," fellow defensive captain Jerod Mayo said. "And he's a great leader, he demands double-teams in the run game, and he also coordinates some of the rushes in the passing game as well."

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/01/2013 03:06 PM

The Cincinnati Bengals signed veteran free agent linebacker Michael Boley on Tuesday.

His agent, Doug Hendrickson, tweeted about Boley on Tuesday morning, congratulating his client for "heading to the Bengals."

The Bengals confirmed the signing Tuesday afternoon, waiving cornerback Curtis Marsh in order to make room for Boley on the 53-man roster.

A nine-year veteran who played with the Atlanta Falcons and most recently the New York Giants, Boley tried out with the Bengals in early September as the team was attempting to shore up its depth at outside linebacker. Emmanuel Lamur had just been lost for the season with an injury and the Bengals needed help with depth behind young linebackers Rey Maualuga and Vontaze Burfict.

Boley, who played in all 16 of the Giants' games last season, not only brings another hard-hitting tackler to the mix for the Bengals, but he also brings solid coverage skills. He had 64 total tackles, three interceptions and four deflected passes in 2012.

Boley also brings some off-field baggage to Cincinnati. In May, he was charged with child abuse, marking the second time in two years that he has had to fight such a charge. While playing for the Falcons, he also was arrested on domestic violence charges in 2008. Even though the prosecutor didn't pursue those charges, Boley was suspended for the first game of the following season for violating the NFL's player conduct policy.

The Bengals have spent much of the season's early weeks trying out players for a linebacker spot. In addition to Boley, they worked out Thomas Howard and Tyrone McKenzie.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/02/2013 02:18 PM

Patriots coach Bill Belichick was a bit chippy during his Wednesday morning news conference.

Among the things that Belichick said which caught our attention related to his thoughts on running back LeGarrette Blount.

When a questioner mentioned the coaches seemed to be showing confidence in Blount over the last two games, Belichick didn't wait for the question to end. He jumped right in and said there has never been a lack of confidence, going back to the first peseason game at Philadelphia.

Then he touched on the fourth-quarter third-and-1 run in which Blount was stopped short on Sunday night against the Falcons. A first down would have, for all intents and purposes, ended the game.

"It was probably as good a run as we've had all year. I don't know about the spot on that one, but he did everything he could to get that first down. It was a very close play," Belichick said.

"But nobody will ever talk about that one. I think that's as good a run as we've had. I know it didn't gain any yards but that was a good run."

The Falcons had good penetration on the play, with safety William Moore (6-0, 221) surging through and hanging on to the 6-foot, 250-pound Blount as he powered forward. Belichick still seems irked by the spot (on replay, officials couldn't get a good enough look to change the spot).

"The fact that he even got as close as he did, and we can talk about whether he did or didn't have the first down, but whatever he got on that was more than on his own," Belichick said.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/02/2013 02:19 PM

•The Bengals have won five of their past six games at Paul Brown Stadium.
•In his past six games at home, quarterback Andy Dalton has completed 112 of 181 passes (61.9 percent) for 1,208 yards passing with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 99.0.
•The Bengals are 10-1 when Dalton has a passer rating of 100 or better.
•Rookie running back Giovani Bernard has a rushing touchdown in two of his past three games.
•Since 2011, wide receiver A.J. Green has 21 touchdown receptions; tied for second-most among all AFC wide receivers during that span (Eric Decker 22, Wes Welker 21).
•Tight end Jermaine Gresham (187) needs 13 receptions to become the fifth tight end in franchise history with 200. In his last game against the Patriots, Gresham recorded a touchdown grab.
•Linebacker Vontaze Burfict leads the team with 42 tackles in 2013.
•Since 2012, defensive tackle Geno Atkins leads all NFL defensive tackles with 15 quarterback sacks.
•Defensive end Carlos Dunlap has three sacks in his past three games, including 1.5 last week against the Browns.
•In his last game against the New England Patriots, Terence Newman posted an interception (with the Dallas Cowboys).
•Cornerback Leon Hall recorded an interception in his last game against the New England Patriots.
•Adam Jones returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown against the Patriots on Dec. 31, 2006 (with the Titans)

•Dating back to 2012, the Patriots have won 13 of the past 14 regular season games and look to record their seventh straight win on the road.
•Quarterback Tom Brady has a touchdown pass in 52 consecutive games, second-longest streak in NFL history (Drew Brees, 54).
•In his career against the Bengals, Brady is 4-0 and has completed 83 of 119 passes (69.7 percent) for 937 yards passing, ten touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 114.
•Brady only needs two touchdowns to surpass Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton (342) for fourth-most in NFL history.
•Running back LeGarrette Blount scored a 47-yard touchdown last week; his first with the Patriots and second-longest in his career.
•Tight end Rob Gronkowski scored his first career touchdown against the Bengals on Sept. 12, 2010.
•Wide receiver Julian Edelman posted a career-high 118 yards receiving against the Falcons and looks to post his seven receptions or more in five consecutive games.
•In his past two games, wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins has nine receptions for 168 yard receiving and three touchdowns.
•Rookie defensive tackle Joe Vellano registered his first quarterback sack last week.
•Defensive end Chandler Jones has a sack in two of his past three games.
•In his past three games, cornerback Aqib Talib has four interceptions and a forced fumble.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/02/2013 02:20 PM

It's hard to believe that an undefeated team might be underrated, but the New England Patriots may be the exception to the rule this season.

The Patriots keep winning games and all anyone wants to talk about are the other undefeated teams.

They don't have a suffocating defense like the Seattle Seahawks or Kansas City Chiefs, nor an explosive offense like the New Orleans Saints or Denver Broncos, but what the Patriots do have is balance. Their rushing offense (11) and scoring defense (6) are among the better ones in the league through the first quarter of the season.

Ironically--or not, given the injuries--the team's passing offense is a middle-of-the-pack unit (17).

And yet, somehow, the Patriots are considered underdogs (-1.5) in their Week 5 game against the Bengals. Though the game is in Cincinnati, and that comes with an automatic -3 advantage for the home team, the Patriots have two more wins and a far better point differential on the year, +32 to even. Apparently, that's not enough to offset the home-field spread.

The injury to Vince Wilfork aside, the Patriots are only going to get healthier. Both Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola are due back in the next couple weeks, and Shane Vereen will be good to go for the stretch run. The trio adds another dynamic to the offense and should help Tom Brady get back on track. And when he does, the offense will be just as dangerous as ever.

If the Patriots can effectively replace Wilfork--no small task--they're among the top teams in the league. Stevan Ridley got back on track with a 4.7 YPC average against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4, and LaGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden both provided effective changes of pace.

After Cincinnati, the Patriots welcome the Saints to town. It will be a true test of just how good both teams are. Brady is beginning to find a rapport with his rookie receivers, especially Kenbrell Thompkins, and the defense continues to impress, holding the high-powered Falcons to just 10 points through three quarters on Sunday.

Many had Atlanta as a favorite to make this year's Super Bowl. If this wasn't a statement game, there aren't many to be had in the NFL this year.

Should they handle Brees and the offseason darling Bengals the same way they handled Matt Ryan's Falcons, perhaps some respect will finally find its way to New England.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/03/2013 01:59 PM

The New England Patriots have signed veteran wide receiver Austin Collie, according to a league source.

Collie was spotted at Thursday's practice during media availability, though the team has not officially announced the move.

Collie spent training camp with the San Francisco 49ers but was released during final cuts. He worked out for other teams since then and now gets a chance to contribute for the Patriots, who put four of the team's six wide receivers on Wednesday's injury report.

A 2009 fourth-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts, the 27-year-old Collie was limited to one game last season because of a ruptured patellar tendon. He has also dealt with concussions in recent years.

When healthy, the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder has been a productive player. He had 172 receptions during his first three seasons, all with the Colts, and as a rookie he had 60 receptions for 676 yards while catching passes from Peyton Manning.

He will wear No. 10 with the Patriots.

New England (4-0) has been without top receiver Danny Amendola since Week 1 because of a groin issue. Rookies Kenbrell Thompkins (shoulder) and Aaron Dobson (neck) suffered injuries in Week 4 that limited them in practice Wednesday.

The status of all three was unclear for Sunday's road game against the Cincinnati Bengals (2-2), though Collie provides insurance and experience at the position.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/03/2013 02:00 PM

Dont’a Hightower came into the NFL with a winning pedigree from the University of Alabama. The young playmaking linebacker joined another perennial winner, the New England Patriots. Now the Patriots are rolling thanks in large part to the play of Hightower and the ever-improving defense.

Hightower has built on a solid rookie campaign with four really good games this season. He had 60 total tackles last year, and has racked up 24 takedowns in just the first four games this season, putting him on pace for 96. Throw in his impressive play against the pass, and the Patriots have a burgeoning star to go alongside fellow linebackers Brandon Spikes and Jarod Mayo.

That group of linebackers is quickly and quietly, becoming one of the better groups in the league. In the last few years, the Patriots have switched from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 scheme, fitting the skill sets of their linebackers even better — especially Hightower.

Despite playing in a 3-4 at Alabama, Hightower’s skills are better suited for the 4-3. A strong, physical defender who can make plays in space, he’s at his best when the offensive line can’t get a clean shot on him. With the extra defender on the line taking up the attention of the blockers, Hightower is free to use his superior athleticism to make plays.

The NFL is shifting back from a 3-4 league to a 4-3 league mostly in response to offenses putting more and more playmakers on the field at the same time. Hightower is excelling against these schemes, making him even more valuable to New England.

The Patriots are going to rely on their defense to get wins for the first time in over a decade. If they want to reach their goals, which are always Super Bowl or bust as long as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are in town, they’re going to need Hightower to continue his ascent into the realm of the elite NFL linebackers.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/03/2013 02:02 PM

The real health of the Cincinnati Bengals heading into Week 5 may have less to do with injured players than it does with the anemic Week 4 performance of the Bengals' offense behind quarterback Andy Dalton, but if the offense can recuperate just enough to sustain some drives and establish an effective running game, the real difference in Week 5 against the New England Patriots may come down to the health of the Bengals' primary pass defenders.

- Reggie Nelson
The return of Bengals' free safety Reggie Nelson from the hamstring injury that kept him out of Week 4 action will have more impact on the Patriots' offense than the return of either injured cornerback, Leon Hall or Dre Kirkpatrick. With his ball hawk instincts and hellbent intent for a collision course, Nelson is a one-man wrecking crew in the Bengals' secondary. His return to action will instill an awareness among the receivers who come across his path that there will be contact consequences for venturing past the second level of the Bengals' defense.

- Leon Hall
Although the Bengals must have Nelson against the prolific Tom Brady passing attack, the return of slot corner Leon Hall sure would help the Bengals' cause. Last week, Brandon Ghee played instead of the injured Hall (hamstring) and showed some promise, but Ghee is likely to have more issues with the complexities he confronts against the Patriots than he faced against the Browns.

In addition to CBs Terence Newman and Adam Jones, Hall completes an outstanding trio of cover corners, who have the versatility to defend both speed and size. Hall was a no-go for practice to start the week.

- Dre Kirkpatrick
Like Hall, CB Dre Kirkpatrick also missed practice at the start of the week with a hamstring injury that kept him out of Week 4 action. The 2012 first-round draft pick Kirkpatrick adds depth at this point in his career, but suspect play during the preseason and limited game action make Kirkpatrick a prime candidate for a depth-chart drop if Ghee continues to build upon the playing time he received in Week 4.

- Vontaze Burfict
Linebacker Vontaze Burfict is to the Bengals' second level what Nelson is to the defensive backfield -- a seemingly ubiquitous enforcer. Burfict sustained a neck injury during Week 4 but missed only a few plays before returning. The injury limited Burfict for practice at the start of the week, and the loss of Burfict for any length of time during Week 5 puts the Bengals' defense at a disadvantage because his weakside coverage skills are unmatched by any other Bengals' LB.

The Bengals signed veteran Michael Boley this week to challenge for the weakside backup role behind Burfict -- as well as potential playing time in nickel coverage -- but provided Burfict is full strength and speed for Week 5, Boley will likely be inactive.

- Michael Johnson
Franchise player and defensive end Michael Johnson did not practice at the start of the week due to concussion symptoms sustained in Week 4. As important as the Bengals' secondary and linebackers are to the success of the Bengals' pass defense, perhaps no single Bengals' defender is more important than Johnson, whose relentless pass rush and height at the line is formidable for all quarterbacks facing the Bengals.

Overall, the signs point to a relatively healthy Bengals' defense, which will most definitely be needed against Brady but also even more important if Dalton is unable to direct a considerably more productive offense than the one he stalled to a grinding stop in Week 5.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/04/2013 01:26 PM

Referring to an offense that failed to get into the end zone last week as "explosive" might sound strange, but New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick isn't about to underestimate the Cincinnati Bengals.

That's especially true with the anchor of his defensive line likely out for the rest of the season.

New England seeks its first 5-0 start in six years Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium while looking to keep Cincinnati's offense sputtering despite the absence of Vince Wilfork.

Wilfork, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, suffered a torn right Achilles tendon in last week's 30-23 win over Atlanta, leaving a defense allowing 346.0 yards per game without one of its top players.

Undrafted rookie Joe Vellano and Chris Jones, a sixth-round pick of Houston who was cut by the Texans and Tampa Bay, are expected to split time in Wilfork's place.

"You just don't replace Vince Wilfork," Belichick said. "We'll still have his presence around the team and in the locker room and those types of things, which he's great at. On the field we'll miss him, but whoever is out there, those other 11 guys that are out there, we're all going to have to pull a little bit harder."

If the Bengals' offense looks anything like it did last week in a 17-6 loss to Cleveland, the Patriots may not have much to worry about. Cincinnati committed two turnovers and totaled 266 yards, including 63 on the ground. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who played four seasons with New England and had a 1,008-yard campaign in 2010, rushed only six times for 13 yards.

Andy Dalton had another rough day, going 23 of 42 for 206 yards and an interception, while A.J. Green caught seven passes for 51 yards and is averaging only 46.0 over the last three weeks.

Still, Belichick knows Cincinnati (2-2) - which has scored 54 points in two home games - has the potential to put points on the board.

"I feel like we're going up against a real explosive team this week," Belichick said. "They're a good football team that can really score from any place on the field with any of their units. I think those are the kind of things that we really have to do a good job on - taking care of the ball, being able to handle their explosive players and explosive plays and staying out of long-yardage and bad situations offensively."

While the Patriots, who have won three games by seven points or fewer, seek their best start since going unbeaten in the 2007 regular season, Tom Brady knows there's still plenty of question marks surrounding the team given its overall health.

"Like every team, we put a lot of work into a season and we're trying to make improvements every week," Brady said. "4-0 is obviously off to a good start. Hopefully we can continue that. We're trying to get better this week."

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis hopes his team can be much better.

"This is a team we've got to play very well against," Lewis said. "We need to play better football. We can draw things, and put words on paper and do all those things, but we need to go out and execute and play winning football. This is a good week and a good chance to go out and compete and win the battles and eventually, hopefully, win the war. I'm looking forward to it."

Though Lewis refused to put all the blame for the offense's inconsistency on Dalton, he made clear his young quarterback needs to play better. Cincinnati ranks 22nd in total offense (327.5 yards per game) with six turnovers over the last two weeks, including two interceptions and a pair of fumbles from Dalton.

"I think we haven't played to our potential yet," Dalton said. "We've done some good things and we've done some things that have hurt us. The biggest thing is, we've got to keep getting better. I expect that, especially this week."

Belichick believes Dalton will present a tough challenge.

"I think he's a good, solid player for them at that position with very good skill players around him and an experienced offensive line," Belichick said. "Like I said, it's an explosive offense."

The Patriots have won seven of the last eight meetings with the Bengals, including all four with Brady under center. He's completed 69.7 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns in those matchups.