|Scouting Report: What you have to know about Bengals-Patriots||10.15.16 at 11:30 am ET|
Everything you need to know for Sunday’s Patriots-Bengals contest, set for 1 p.m. at Gillette Stadium:
WHEN THE PATRIOTS RUN THE BALL
As expected, LeGarrette Blount — who was one of the top rushers in the league over the first four weeks of the 2016 season — saw his workload cut pretty dramatically last week against the Browns. Part of that was matchup-based, as New England held a sizable edge when it came to its passing game against Cleveland. In addition, there was the simple fact that with the return of Tom Brady, the Patriots were going to go back to a pass-first offense. While Blount’s production will change now that Brady is back under center, his important work will likely come in the second half of games when New England holds a lead. The bottom line is that while Blount’s total yardage won’t matter, but when he gets those yards will really tell the story. Anyway, he comes into this game with 106 carries, 389 yards and five touchdowns. The Bengals are middle of the pack when it comes to defending the run, having yielded at least 120 rushing yards in three of their first five games, including a whopping 180 yards on the ground last week against the Cowboys. On the other end of the spectrum, there they also held the Broncos to 52 rushing yards and 62 yards on the ground against the Dolphins. Basically? The very definition of feast or famine. (Overall, it’s averaged out to 114 rushing yards per game allowed, 20th in the NFL.) If you’re the Patriots and can get to an early lead, expect them to try and kill the clock and run the ball in the second half, setting up a potential big day down the stretch for Blount.
WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASS THE BALL
This is going to be the matchup that decides it, one way or another. New England welcomed Brady back last week, and his 406 passing yards against the Browns effectively quieted any talk of rust following his four-week layoff. Now, the quarterback gets to take a step up in weight class against the Bengals, a team that’s 11th overall against the pass, having allowed an average of 225 yards per game through the air. This week should be like most others, as Brady will rely on Martellus Bennett (21 catches, 315 yards, 4 TDs), Rob Gronkowski (6 catches, 120 yards), Julian Edelman (24 catches, 231 yards), Chris Hogan (12 catches, 236 yards, 1 TD) and James White (17 catches, 165 yards). All of that is provided Gronkowski is over whatever illness was dogging him on Friday that caused him to miss practice. The Bengals have been OK against the pass — overall, Cincy has allowed an average of 225 passing yards per game, while the Bengals 10 sacks are tied for 17th in the NFL. The one set of numbers that stands out if you’re a Patriots’ fan? Cincy is one of the worst teams in the league when it comes to defending backs in the passing game; per Football Outsiders, the Bengals have allowed 6.6 catches and 43 yards per game against running backs. Maybe a better-than-expected week for White?
|Fun Facts: 10 things to know heading into Patriots-Bengals||at 10:52 am ET|
The circumstances are certainly different from the last time the two teams met when the Patriots were 2-2 after four games in 2014 and the Bengals were 3-0, ultimately leading to the game that turned the Patriots’ season around, a 43-17 win at Gillette Stadium on Oct. 5, 2014.
This week is still a big game as Tom Brady will make his return to Gillette Stadium Sunday afternoon when the 4-1 Patriots host the 2-3 Bengals.
(As always, thanks to the Patriots media relations staff for the help with some of these from this week’s media guide.)
1. Brady is 48-1 at home against AFC opponents in the regular season since 2007.
2. The last time the Patriots were at home they fell 16-0 to the Bills. The last time the Patriots lost two straight at home was all the way back in 2008 (Jets, Steelers).
3. Stephen Gostkowski has missed three field goals through five games. He hasn’t missed more than three field goals in a season since 2012. Over his 10 previous seasons, five times Gostkowski finished with three or fewer missed field goals.
4. Julian Edelman has gone three straight games with less than 40 yards receiving. He hasn’t gone four straight games with 40 or fewer yards receiving since November of 2012. Last year, Edelman didn’t have one game with less than 40 yards receiving.
5. Last Sunday against the Browns was Chris Hogan’s first career 100-yard receiving game. With 236 yards on the year, he’s more than halfway to his career-high of 450 set last season.
6. The Patriots have yet to throw an interception this season, which is a new team record by going five straight games to open a season without throwing a pick. The old record was four games set in 2015. Overall, the team record is eight straight games without an interception, set in the second half of the 2010 season.
7. When leading after three quarters, the Patriots are 153-9 since 2001 in the regular season.
8. Since 2007 in the regular season, the Patriots are 60-15 when winning the coin toss.
9. With 51 yards receiving, Rob Gronkowski will pass Irving Fryar (5,726) for fourth all-time in receiving yards with the Patriots. Stanley Morgan is No. 1 with 10,352.
10. The magic number is 23. Including the playoffs, New England is 168-14 when scoring 23 or more points under Bill Belichick.
|Bovada lists Patriots as favorites to win Super Bowl 51||10.13.16 at 11:08 am ET|
The Patriots are still the favorites to win Super Bowl LI, according to Bovada.
New England is 7/2 to win the title, followed closely by the Vikings and Steelers (7/1), while the Packers (8/1) and Seahawks (17/2) aren’t far behind. For some perspective, the Bears, Dolphins (500/1), Niners (1000/1) and Browns (3000/1) bring up the rear.
Predictably, the Patriots are also the choice to win the AFC at 7/4, with the Steelers (3/1) and Broncos (3/1) rounding out the top three. And New England is also the easy choice in the AFC East at 1/10.
And despite the fact that he just returned from his four-game suspension, Tom Brady now has the third-best odds to win MVP this year at 13/2. Brady trails Matt Ryan (9/2) and Ben Roethlisberger (5/1).
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Tom Brady has fond memories from playing with current Bengals WR Brandon LaFell||10.12.16 at 7:41 pm ET|
Tom Brady played just two seasons with wide receiver Brandon LaFell, but they were two big ones as the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX and made it to the AFC title game last year before falling to Denver.
LaFell wasn’t brought back to New England for this season and instead he signed with the Bengals.
“I loved playing with Jo [Brandon LaFell],” Brady said on a conference call with the Cincinnati media. “He was a spectacular player and I know he had a big week last week. I saw two touchdowns. He’s a great teammate. We were locker mates for a couple of years and he just made huge contributions to our team.
“He was selfless. He has a great skill set, speed, toughness, his run-after-catch. He can really do everything, the whole route-tree. He played in the slot for us, he played outside, he caught short balls, he caught deep balls, he was very good in the red area so I loved playing with him. He’s a spectacular player and it looks like he’s off to a great start this year.”
The wide receiver had his best season as a pro in 2014 where he caught 74 passes for 953 yards and seven touchdowns from Brady. He also had the game-winning touchdown in the divisional round win over the Ravens. LaFell battled injuries last year and could never get back up to speed, finishing with 37 catches for 515 yards.
The quarterback admitted it was tough to lose him.
“He brought a good attitude every day,” Brady said. “We spent a lot of time with each other and I think that was a reason why we developed a great relationship. We were next to each other for his whole time there. I always enjoyed being with him, being around him and it was tough to see him go.”
LaFell has 21 catches for 276 yards and two touchdowns in five games with the Bengals this year.
|Tom Brady understands why brother-in-law Kevin Youkilis won’t be rooting for Patriots this week||at 7:28 pm ET|
All of Tom Brady’s extended family won’t be rooting for the Patriots this weekend.
Brady’s brother-in-law Kevin Youkilis was born in Cincinnati so is a die hard Bengals fan. Brady understands where he is coming from and has no problem with it — in fact he likes it.
(Youkilis married Brady’s sister Julie in 2012.)
“He’s a much bigger Bengal fan than a Patriot fan so I know he’ll be rooting for the Bengals this week,” Brady said on a conference call with the Cincinnati media. “He sends that every year in the Christmas letters and I see a lot of pictures of him wearing Bengals stuff so I know he’s got Bengals in his blood. You can’t ever take that out of him.”
Added Brady: “I have respect for that. I like that. I think when you find a team you like you stick with them, so he’s always done that. He loves [University of] Cincinnati, too – the Bearcats. He’s never forgotten where he comes from.
Brady was also asked about another member of the Red Sox — David Ortiz. The quarterback said he hopes Ortiz changes his mind and returns next season.
“He had a great career and he had a great season,” Brady said. “He’s been a great player for the league and for the city. I mean he’s meant so much, been a part of three championship teams here. Baseball is huge here in Boston and really in New England. I mean they love the Red Sox. It’s obviously sad to see him retire. I hope he comes back and keeps playing because he had a great year, but everyone’s going to make the choice whenever it feels right.”
|Tom Brady is pumped for his first game back at Gillette||at 1:02 pm ET|
FOXBORO — For the first time since beating the Chiefs in the AFC divisional round last January, Tom Brady will be taking the field and taking snaps at Gillette Stadium.
Brady spoke Wednesday about how much he’s looking forward to playing in front of the home crowd in Foxboro when the Patriots host the 2-3 Bengals.
“I’m very excited,” Brady said. “It’ll be a great game. I think they’re a very good team we’re playing. I know the crowd will be into it. I’m sure we’ll be ready to go, too.
“I think it just still feels like I’m getting into it. Even last week, just working my way back, playing. This week, Monday and Tuesday more normal. Hopefully, that continues today.”
Despite insisting that he’s still feeling his way back into action, Brady won AFC player of the week honors Wednesday after completing 28-of-40 passes for 406 yards and three touchdowns to Martellus Bennett in a 33-13 win over the Browns.
Now his attention is focused the other Ohio team, a team that like the Browns, comes in as heavy underdogs and who are trying to right their ship after losing three of their first five games.
The crowd was in a frenzy on Oct. 5, 2014 when the Patriots and Brady blew out the Bengals, 43-17, en route to a Super Bowl run. Brady is hoping for more of the same this week.
“I look forward to playing every week,” Brady said. “Certainly, this will be a fun game. It’s always pretty fun to be out there. We’ve got a great crowd. Hopefully, we’ll give them lots of reasons to cheer. We’ve always had such great support here. It’s just a great place to play. So, hopefully we can make enough plays and keep them loud all game.”
FOXBORO — Tom Brady’s weekly press conference ended abruptly when a question was posed to the quarterback about Donald Trump.
Jonathan Choe of NECN nearly jumped out of his seat, yelling over several reporters to get the final question in.
The reporter asked: “Tom, you have kids of your own. How would you respond if your kids heard Donald Trump’s version of locker room talk?”
“Thank you, guys. Have a good day,” Brady replied and walked off the podium.
It’s important to note, this was the last question of the press conference as Patriots PR stated there would be two questions before this one.
Brady and the Patriots will host the Bengals Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
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