Cincinnati Bengals (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (4-1 SU, 4-1 ATS)
Week 6 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 16, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: CIN +9/NE -9
Over/Under Total: 47
The Cincinnati Bengals come to Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots in a pivotal AFC battle on Sunday. The Patriots finally saw the return of Tom Brady and he didn't disappoint, throwing for over 400 yards in a thorough 33-13 road win over the Cleveland Browns. Returning home, look for a rollicking Gillette Stadium on Sunday. The Bengals, meanwhile, will be looking to dust themselves off after a 28-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. They are a loss to the Pats away from falling to 2-4 on the season.
It's not easy to pinpoint what happens to teams sometimes, but it's gone south for the Bengals so far in 2016. They're a dependable contender, a perennial AFC force that makes you want to defer to the notion that they'll eventually get it together. At the same time, history shows us that no team stays in the playoff mix indefinitely. And after five utterly-fruitless postseason appearances and 7 overall in the Marvin Lewis era, they may have found that bend in the river.
One could almost start making the case that the Pats are due for a letdown. They poured a lot of effort into the Brady-less start, where they forged a hard-earned 3-1 mark. And now that he's back and already showed he's still Tom Brady, maybe they come to earth a little bit. At the same time, the romp in Cleveland almost seemed like a tune-up game for this spot—Brady's return home. Maybe the game after this will be a better spot. Still, they're not in as desperate a position as the Bengals who will really be pouring it on to avoid what would be a disastrous start to the 2016 season.
The Patriots looked really good on Sunday, albeit against the winless Browns—a team that has already seen five different players take snaps at QB in just five games. Brady was 28-for-40 for 406 yards and three touchdowns. All of them were caught by TE Martellus Bennett, who along with Rob Gronkowski, make for a scary 1-2 punch at tight end. Gronkowski finally came alive with 109 yards. Brady connected for the first time with Chris Hogan, who was also over 100 yards on the day. RB James White had 63 yards receiving. Brady racked up a huge day without really having to use two of his favorite targets—Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. Interestingly, no Pats quarterbacks have thrown a pick through 5 games.
A New England defense that was depended on heavily in Brady's absence was again stellar on Sunday. The Browns hit the scoreboard early to make it 7-7, but didn't score against until it was 30-7 Patriots and basically over. The defense has allowed 29 combined points in their last three games. They held the sometimes-sparked Cleveland offense to 262 yards of total offense. Malcom Brown had two sacks. Patrick Chung had a pick. They were disruptive and made an impact.
We'll see if the Bengals can come up with something better on Sunday, as the situation is getting ugly. It's been rough, with back-to-back road games, first against Dallas and now New England. This is their 4th road game this season already, none of them really being easy. They hit new depths on Sunday against the Cowboys, playing in an urgent game. Other than two fourth-quarter touchdowns, it was an exercise in futility.
The Cincy defense has been such a key part of their success over the years and one was within sound reason to think that maybe the Bengals could curb the production of rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, but no such luck. The Dallas front manhandled the Bengals' line at times and that's not a good sign for a group accustomed to controlling the line of scrimmage. There wasn't really one area that looked good on Sunday for the Bengals.
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The Bengals offense has a few different problems, namely that the run-game has become far-less bankable this season, while AJ Green is the only viable aerial weapon. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard are both coming off good seasons and haven't really clicked this season as of yet. Defenses are allowed to key in on Green and when he is stopped, the whole Bengals offense seems to grind to a halt, though Brandon LaFell caught two TDs and has had his moments this season. Andy Dalton is the same guy, but his options are less-prolific this season through five games. They should get better on this side of the ball with TE Tyler Eifert returning, but this is still a tough road spot for a Bengals team looking for relief.
Again, the Brady homecoming is a bad time for the Bengals to get well, so to speak, but one can't rule out the possibility that the Bengals find some answers. Teams don't get to the postseason five times in a row because they're not able to figure things out. A 2-4 record would be a tough pill to swallow. And there is always the chance that after Brady's big game and his return home, that the true merit of the Pats gets blown slightly out-of-proportion. The point spread seems to indicate that to some point this week. I'm taking the points.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Cincinnati Bengals plus 9 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Cincinnati vs. New England game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!