Offense, more than anything, has been the biggest problem for the New England Patriots so far this season, with the focus being on Tom Brady looking bad, normal and old on more than one occasion. The timing of meeting the Cincinnati Bengals is less than ideal, but maybe facing a hyped up defense will be an excellent opportunity to prove that the bashing they took over the week from the media was misplaced and premature.
At home, the Patriots are usually a different team, although their 16-9 win over the Oakland Raiders wasn’t exactly confidence building for their quarterback, playing against one of the worst teams in the NFL. It seems many in the media are trying to shift the blame from Brady towards the wide receivers and the offensive line, but it’s never just one thing, and Brady is playing a big part in how badly the Patriots have done on the road this season.
They looked awful when the Bengals beat them 13-6 last season, but the Patriots are often “Angry” following bad games. It might focus them, point them in the right direction, and who knows, maybe Bill Belichick has figured out a way to stop his offensive line from crumbling in order to buy more time for a quarterback with a weakening arm and the inability to get out of the way when a sack is coming.
The Bengals are one of the two remaining undefeated teams in the NFL, going 3-0 so far with wins over Baltimore, Atlanta and Tennessee. They’ve given up just 33 points overall this season, and are currenlty fourth in the NFL defensively, allowing only 352.7 yards per game.
Cincinnati are only 25th offensively this season but it’s a bit misleading. Andy Dalton hasn’t needed to air things out, throwing just two touchdown passes so far. The Bengals have a running game do most of the dirty work with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard doing an excellent job in sharing the load. A.J. Green and Mohamed Sanu have been very difficult to hold off as well, each catching one touchdown pass this season.
The Bengals have gotten creative with their play calling, allowing Dalton to catch a touchdown pass as well. It comes with confidence. The Patriots? They’ve become more rigid. It comes with losing confidence and feeling some sort of panic. Bill Belichick is behind them, for better and worse. Sometimes he’s the genius, but other times he’s the arrogant person who let the quality of players on this team deteriorate year after year, maybe beyond a point he can do anything about it.