Host, Psycho Sports
The story line for the entire offseason was Tom Brady facing a suspension for his alleged role in the deflategate scandal.
Could Jimmy Garappolo get the job done?
Could the Patriots still win when their most important player wasn’t there?
Now, that is all in the past. Tom Brady is back, and the Patriots are playing to the capacity we expect them to. We saw them embarrass a mediocre Cleveland Browns team, with Brady passing for over 400 yards. I would not say embarrassing the Browns is a tough task, as they have yet to win a game, but posting over 400 yards - without even taking every snap - shows that Brady is the same old Brady that knows how to get the job done.
Brady has now had an extra week of practice. Time to get further in sync with his receivers to become even more efficient. This week, we will see them take on the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals came into the season as a likely wild-card team, with most people feeling the Steelers would walk away with the AFC North. Despite their favorable preseason outlook, the Bengals are 2-3 so far this season, with losses to the Steelers, Broncos, and Cowboys, and a last minute win against the Jets during the opening week.
Andy Dalton has managed to throw for an average over 300 yards per game, but he has certainly faced the pressure. A major problem for the Bengals has been their offensive line, which has given up the second most sacks in the league. This has played a huge role in Dalton only throwing five touchdown passes thus far. However, the Bengals also are missing a significant portion of their receiving corp. from last season. Tyler Eiffert has not yet suited up this season, plus they lost Marvin Jones and Mohammed Sanu via free agency this offseason. Combined, the three scored 17 touchdowns last season, and put up around 1800 receiving yards.
Andy Dalton has a new target in former Patriot Brandon LaFell, however has not had the same options as last season, in terms of both quality and quantity. AJ Green is still one of the league’s top receivers, and the backfield duo of Hill and Bernard is as dangerous as ever, but this is not the same offense we have seen from Cincinnati in the past.
Not only do the Patriots have Brady back, but they have Rob Ninkovich back to provide a strong pass rush against a week Bengals offensive line. A pro-bowler last season, Malcom Butler is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, and will at minimum slow AJ Green down. Last week, the rookie-led Cowboys offense scored four touchdowns on the Bengals. Tom Brady is far more experienced than Dak Prescott, but the biggest offensive force was Ezekiel Eliot, who rushed for 134 yards and scored two touchdowns. Eliot is a very good young player, the Patriots might not have a running back as good. However, Blount should be able to get the job done against a Bengals run defense which allowed 6.2 yards per carry last week.
With Brady back, a Cincinnati offensive line that has not been capable of protecting Andy Dalton, a weak group of receivers after Green, and home field advantage, this game strongly favors the Patriots. As of Wednesday, the Patriots are favored by 8.5, the largest spread in the league. I will follow that trend, and pick the Patriots to win.
Tyler's Prediction: Week 6
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