NFL: Saturday, October 16, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. EST
The Line: New England Patriots -8. Total: 47.
The New England Patriots will be trying to win their second straight game with Tom Brady under center when they host the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium on Sunday afternoon. New England suffered its first loss of the season to Buffalo in Week 4, but Brady returned from his suspension to help hammer Cleveland 33-13 last weekend. The Bengals have dropped three of their last four contests after falling at Dallas 28-14 this past week.
It’s just not clicking
Cincinnati’s performance against the Cowboys was even worse than the score suggested, as the visitors trailed 28-0 heading into the fourth quarter before scoring a pair of meaningless touchdowns in the last eight minutes. They rushed for a mere 96 yards, including 50 by Giovani Bernard–who averaged 5.6 yards per carry but was fed just nine times. Bernard is averaging only 3,5 yards per rush so far in 2016 (34 for 118) and Jeremy Hill is also under 4.0 yards per carry (62 for 233; 3.8). The Bengals have not scored more than 23 points in any game this season.
“For some reason it’s just not clicking,’’ Bernard admitted.
The reason may be that Cincinnati has been unable to find an answer when receiver A.J. Green (36 catches, 518 yards, two touchdowns) is held in check. In two wins this year, Green has 22 receptions for 353 yards and two scores. In three losses, he has 14 receptions for 165 yards and no TDs.
The story of a man named Brady
Brady may have been playing his first game of the 2016 game, but he was in midseason form in New England’s Week 5 defeat of the Browns. Coming off a four-game suspension, the 39-year-old completed 28 of 40 passes for 406 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Brady completed four of five attempts on his team’s opening drive (the incompletion was dropped) and the Patriots’ second time with the football resulted in a scoring strike to Martellus Bennett.
“I know I’ve talked at length about how I’ve felt over the years and I feel better now at 39 than I did when I was 29,” Brady said during a radio interview on WEEI. “And I feel like it’s due to a lot of things. I feel like I’m in a good routine and if I play a game like I did (this past Sunday), I feel like by Wednesday practice, you know, I’m geared up to go.”
That sounds like bad news for Cincinnati.
The Cincinnati Bengals are:
- 1-4-2 ATS in their last seven overall
- 11-5 Under in their last 16 overall
- 5-1 Under in their last six road games
The New England Patriots are:
- 4-1 ATS in their last five overall
- 4-1 ATS in their last five home games
- 4-1 ATS in their last five games against Cincinnati
Cincinnati’s two victories have come against teams with a combined record of 2-8, while their three losses have come at the hands of teams that can be expected to be in the postseason festivities (Pittsburgh, Denver, and Dallas). Add the Pats, of course, to the latter list. The Bengals’ offense has been one-dimensional this season, which does not bode well heading into a showdown with New England. After all, Bill Belichick and company have never had any trouble devising plans to take away opponents’ No. 1 threats. Cincinnati will have to get going on offense if it wants to keep up with the Patriots, as Brady wasted no time getting back in business in Week 5. The Bengals are 1-4-2 ATS in their last seven overall and 1-4 ATS in the last five meetings between the two teams. The Patriots are 4-1 ATS in their last five overall and 4-1 ATS in their last five at home. Look for those trends to continue.