With the Bills right on their heels, the Patriots find themselves in a precarious position heading into the final three weeks of the regular season. At 10-3, New England is virtually a lock to make the playoffs but they took a step back in the race for the No. 2-seed in the AFC last week. Thanks to their loss to the Chiefs, Kansas City now owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over New England. If the two teams end the season with the season record, the Patriots will be forced to play in the AFC Wild Card game. Meanwhile, the Bengals have a firm grip on the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft with a 1-12 record through the first 14 weeks. Can the Bengals do the impossible and pull off an upset over a Patriots team that has underwhelmed in recent weeks?
It’s been a weird week for the Patriots, who were caught videotaping the Bengals sideline last week. It’s interesting to wonder why the 10-3 Patriots would need an edge to win against a 1-12 football team. While Belicheck ultimately denied involvement in last week’s scandal, he has left a trail of suspicion hanging over arguably the NFL’s greatest dynasty. According to Pro Football Talk, the video focused on the Bengals sideline for eight minutes. Paul Dehner J.r of The Athletic reported that the video gives “a direct view of the sideline as players run on and off the field and coaches make signals for plays.” It’s just another distraction for the Patriots, who are set up for a bit of a trap game this week in Cincinnati. New England needs to win out to clinch the No. 2 seed with the only real obstacle coming next week in a divisional battle against the Buffalo Bills, who took the Patriots to the brink in a 16-10 Week 4 loss.
It feels like the Bengals have been tanking since the opening week and that’s good news considering the incoming quarterback class. Andy Dalton recently led the Bengals to their first win of the season but his time has passed in Cincinnati. With the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Cincinnati will get its shot at a franchise quarterback or a generational edge rusher (Chase Young). LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is the midst of a record-setting season and is shaping up to be the clear-cut No. 1 quarterback in the draft. Burrow is projected to be the top pick but keep an eye on Young, whose stock has been steadily rising over the past year. It wouldn’t be the first time that a team opted for a defensive player over a dynamic offensive talent (Mario Williams, Reggie Bush in 2006) with the first overall pick.
Edelman finds himself on injury report after Chiefs lossThe Patriots came up short against a potential AFC playoff team for the second straight time last week, losing at home 23-16 versus the Kansas City Chiefs. Tom Brady threw for only 169 yards with one touchdown and one interception while Julian Edelman caught eight balls for 95 yards and a score. New England’s recent struggles on offense continued against the Chiefs, as the Patriots totaled just 278 yards of total offense and went 2-for-12 on third down.
Edelman was seen limping on the sidelines during the fourth quarter and was promptly held out of practice this week for “load management purposes”. Losing their top receiving target would be a major blow for an offense that has averaged just 19.0 points per game over their past five contests while going 2-3 during that span. Brady has also been victimized by dropped passes in 2019. His normally-reliable receiving corps have dropped the second-most passes in the league (20) this season and Edelman leads the NFL in dropped passes with eight.
As for Spygate 2.0, Roger Goodell won’t rush to any conclusions until the Patriots probe is complete, according to ESPN. New England remains one game ahead of the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East with an impending matchup against them coming up next week.
Mixon trending up for hapless BengalsRunning back Joe Mixon put his best foot forward following a brief benching on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. The 2017 second-round pick was pulled from the contest after he was flagged from an unnecessary roughness penalty midway through the first quarter.
Upon re-entering the game, Mixon responded by running for 146 yards and a touchdown while catching three balls for 40 yards in a 27-19 loss. Andy Dalton threw for 262 yards and an interception while Cincinnati’s defense gave up 451 yards of total offense on the day.
Like many of his teammates, it has been a tough year for Mixon, who is averaging only 3.8 yards per carry this season. However, he’s been trending up in recent weeks. The Bengals’ running back is creeping up on the 1,000-yard mark with 789 yards for the season and he’s scored all three of his touchdowns over the last four weeks.
The Bengals got some encouraging news this week when 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams was cleared to practice. Williams has spent the entire season on the PUP list while recovering from a shoulder injury but should give the Bengals’ offensive line a boost once he returns to the field.
Meanwhile, injured wide receiver AJ Green did not practice on Wednesday and remains day-to-day, per head coach Zac Taylor. After spending eight weeks on IR, John Ross also landed back on the injury report with a foot injury.
- Patriots are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 vs. AFC.
- Patriots are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games in December.
- Patriots are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games on fieldturf.
- Bengals are 23-9 ATS in their last 32 games in December.
- Bengals are 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 games in Week 15.