After two consecutive weeks out west, the New England Patriots will be back in Foxboro playing host to the Cincinnati Bengals. With the Bengals entering a six-game winning streak, the Patriots will have to stop the defending AFC champions.
- New England owns a 17-9 edge in the series, and the Pats have won eight of the last 10 meetings.
- Cincinnati is averaging 362.1 yards of total offense, which is the 10th most in the NFL. The Patriots rank 25th with 319.5 yards.
- The Bengals are tied for the fifth-highest scoring offense with 26.4 points per game. The Patriots offense is averaging 21.4 points, 17th in the NFL.
- If Mac Jones is going to have a good game before the end of the season, Saturday is the day to do it. Cincinnati’s passing defense ranks 20th in the NFL.
- New England has scored a defensive touchdown consecutive weeks. The team has not gone three straight games with a defensive score since late in the 2004 season. They have five defensive touchdowns on the season, which is the most since the 04-05 season.
- The Bengals have won six straight and eight of their last nine games.
- Bengals lead the AFC North and can clinch
Patriots Need to Stop the Bengals Passing Attack
Joe Burrow has turned it on as of late starting the season off slow after having an emergency appendectomy before the season. Burrow is fourth in the NFL in passing yards, second in touchdowns, and second in completion percentage. Burrows pocket presence is what truly makes him elite. His ability to know where pressure is coming from and his footwork in the pocket is what makes him so great.
Zac Taylor says regardless of what happened on Sunday in Vegas, Bengals know Patriots will give them “best shot” pic.twitter.com/1nFKs8AJCV
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) December 21, 2022
Outside of the pocket though is where you can truly get into trouble against this Bengals team. If the Patriots do not contain Burrow and allow him to escape his combination of arm strength and elite vision now come into play. Not to mention the weapons he has at his disposal.
It all starts outside with Ja ’Marr Chase. Chase was injured in week seven and in the three games since his return he hasn’t missed a beat with 276 yards and two touchdowns. He is the best wide receiver in football and the Patriots are going to have their hands full for sure. Chase is accompanied by Tee Higgins, who is listed as questionable. Higgins, at 6’4”, is the Bengals leading receiver with 894 yards on 65 catches.
Statistically he is the best deep threat option that the Bengals have as averages one target a game over 40 yards and catches about half of them. Compare that to Chase’s catch rate of 25% on balls thrown 20 plus yards, and Higgins is someone the Patriots secondary must keep an eye on when Burrow escapes the pocket.
Wide receiver Tyler Boyd and tight end Hayden Hurst have also been able to have career seasons this year too. Boyd is one pace to have his second-best season as a pro while Hurst, who hasn’t practiced this week at all, is one pace to have his second-best season as a pro too.
Outside of that the Bengals have another game breaker in the backfield. Joe Mixon is having an average year by his standards as a runner of the football but as a receiver has already had a career year by those standards. He has blown by his previous career highs in catches and yards and the Bengals have three games to go. Mixon is the wild card in this offense because if the Patriots can slow these Bengals perimeter players down then Mixon can beat the Patriots by himself. He’s already done it once this year and surely, he can do it again.
Patriots Defensive Scheme
The Patriots defensive scheme should be like what it was last week. I expect Marcus Jones on Ja’ Marr Chase with safety help, like what the Patriots did to Adams last week in Las Vegas. They held Adams to 24 yards so I would hope the Patriots can replicate that. Chase has 499 snaps outside of the number this year and only 140 inside.
Bill Belichick Live Press Conference 12/21: https://t.co/BPzH79Lag3
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) December 21, 2022
On the other side it would be Jalen Mills if he plays on Higgins due to his size. If Mills Is out again with his groin it would be a combination of Jonathan and Jack Jones. Jack Jones was out last week with a knee injury but is listed as questionable. Regardless of who is on Higgins I would expect them to be on an island outside with him. Whoever is not on Higgins will be covering Boyd, in the slot typically where he lines up for about 80% of his snaps, the opposite of Chase.
The Patriots will have Kyle Dugger lined up in his typical off ball linebacker spot which he has dominated at this season. Whether he has been defending the run or the pass he has been a true bright spot for this Patriots defense.
Bill Belichick Live Press Conference 12/19: https://t.co/e6UgRSG5ts
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) December 19, 2022
The defensive line is going to have to get pressure on Burrow, who has been sacked 37 times this year. This Patriots defense is ranked third in the NFL in sacks with 48, and have two of the best pass rushers in football this season in Matthew Judon and Josh Uche. It seems like every week one of these two have a sack and it is paramount that they make Joe Burrow uncomfortable in the pocket for the Patriots to even have a chance in this game.
The Patriots are 7-0 when holding opponents to under 17 point and 0-7 when they give up more. It is a tall order but if the Patriots want any chance to win, this is how they are going to have to achieve it.
Offensive Scheme for New England
Patriots’ fans know what this offense is at this point, mediocre at best and that’s being nice about it. The scheme has been terrible, the blocking has been sloppy mostly, and the quarterback play has been mediocre at best. The only bright spot has been the emergence of Rhamondre Stevenson as an every down back.
VOTE for the @FedEx Ground Player of the Week!
— NFL (@NFL) December 19, 2022
He is going to be a 1,000 yard back if he can stay healthy and he has proven that he is the only reliable and consistent option for this offense. He is the ninth ranked running back on PFF and his five yards a carry is only bested by 3 other players. Although he was the catalyst of the horrific ending to last week’s game, he has proven that he can run on average rushing defenses. Also, he is coming off his best game as a pro, so he should feel good heading into this week.
Mac Jones has regressed this season and so has all his receiver. When the Patriots throw the ball, they must make simple throws and catch it when it puts it in their hands. Last week was terrible to watch and they still should have won that game. If they can make simple thrown and catch the ball and move the ball just a little bit then they can have a chance but outside of that possibility they will have no shot.
The Bengals are 3.5-point favorites and should be able to win this one easily over a Patriots team who looks defeated at this point in the season. 41.5 points should be able to cover for an over, as both teams average over twenty points per game. Saturday is going to be sunny and in the mid twenties for the one o’clock kickoff Christmas Eve.
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