The Cincinnati Bengals will take on the unbeaten New England Patriots in Week 5. Cincinnati is 2-2 on the season, having beaten one team they should have and one they probably shouldn't, while losing a team they should have and one they probably shouldn't have. Meanwhile, the Patriots are ... the Patriots, only more like Bill Belichick's earlier teams than the high-flying offenses of late.
New England has now won four games, three of which were by a single score. They don't look unbeatable, but they're in control of the AFC East. Cincinnati is also in charge of their division, but at 2-2, the AFC North is an awful lot more contested at this point.
Let's take a look at both teams below:
Meet the Bengals
The Bengals might have the best roster in their division, but they struggle to maintain consistency. While the Cleveland Browns might be better than expected, losing a 17-6 game in Week 4 was a bad sign. Andy Dalton threw for just 206 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. The team also only rushed for 63 yards total. Brian Hoyer, on the other hand, managed 269 yards and a pair of touchdowns with no interceptions.
Cincinnati has the No. 15 passing offense in the league, and that's because Dalton is generally a good deal better than he was against the Browns. The No. 22 rushing offense has been disappointing, however. Where the Bengals have made some strides is on defense. They allow 235.0 passing yards per game, good for No. 13 in the league, and 99 rushing yards per game, good for No. 12.
Still, given the recent play of the Patriots, they'll need to count more on the offense to make things happen against New England's tough defense.
Meet the Patriots
Tom Brady hasn't looked quite as good as he usually does, but he's been getting the job done. He's completed 93 of 158 passes for 1,014 yards with seven touchdowns against two interceptions. That's a completion percentage of 58.9, which is very low for him. But he's not turning the ball over, and that's what's important.
The lack of raw yardage and touchdowns is likely due to the fact that Brady is throwing to some pretty underwhelming receivers. Wes Welker left in free agency, Rob Gronkowski hasn't played yet due to injury, Aaron Hernandez is obviously gone and Danny Amendola has been hurt. Brady's top three targets right now are Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson.
Instead, the Patriots have been using strong defense to win games. Outside of a 23-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Patriots have outscored their other three opponents by just 12 points altogether.
Local Takes: Bengals
Over at Cincy Jungle, they note that Dalton pretty consistently out-performs Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks head-to-head ... which is of particular note this week:
Playing to the level of the competition is a common theme when talking about the Bengals. Look at the small sample of this season. They run and gun with the Packers and then crumble against the over matched Browns.
For some reason, Dalton has shown up in games where his counterpart has won it all.
This is nice to know seeing as the Bengals will be facing one of the best quarterbacks in this generation of players. Tom Brady will come to Cincinnati as a 3 time Super Bowl winner. Hopefully Dalton continues the streak of outplaying the counterpart with the hardware.
Local Takes: Patriots
Kevin O'Connor of Pats Pulpitsays it would be a big deal if Danny Amendola was able to play:
It's a huge positive for the offense that Amendola likely makes his return tomorrow. After his heroic effort in Week One against the Buffalo Bills, catching ten passes for 104 yards, he will look to continue his success tomorrow against the Bengals.
Follow the Fun
Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:
Bucs looking to trade Freeman to... everyone. But Dreamcrusher (me) says, not here. http://t.co/fJfWxcAsms— Josh Kirkendall (@CincyJungle) October 1, 2013
Life Without Wilfork: Will the Patriots Trade for a Defensive Lineman? http://t.co/p9Ggw2NJcx— Greg Knopping (@patspulpit) October 1, 2013
Three of SB Nation's five experts elected to go with the Patriots for this game. The two dissenters were Stephen White and David Fucillo, who picked Cincinnati for the upset. Find all the Week 5 picks here.
Cincinnati opened as 3-point favorites for the matchup, according to OddsShark. The line narrowed from there, however, with even money on both teams on most of the prominent books.
The Patriots will return home to host the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 13. The Bengals will hit the road to take on the Buffalo Bills on the same day.