|New England Patriots||7||6||14||7||34|
Nothing like a nice matchup against the Bengals to cool your head after a rough loss to the Chiefs. Optimism was relatively high for the Bengals after a narrow loss to the Seahawks in week one, but quickly drained to rock bottom by this point in the season as they held the worst record in the NFL. Also, there was the illegal filming incident from a guy doing the videography for the Patriots’ advance scout team documentary last week. The media jumped at the opportunity to spit some more garbage. I’m not going to talk more about it.
This game had many similarities to the Patriots’ matchups against Washington and New York Giants. The final score shows a dominant beatdown of a weaker team by a stronger team, but it belies a narrow halftime margin and passing game struggles. At least in this game, there are clear pieces of the box score that lead to such a conclusion. Brady had a near-50% completion percentage including a combined 4-13 passing to an injured duo of Edelman and Sanu. McDaniels instead turned to the run game to pick up yards. The Patriots had their best ground game performance of the season.
Also similar to earlier games this season: The defense. They picked up another four-pick game (1, 2, 3, 4). The defense also showed that they were still vulnerable to a strong rushing game. In fact, both teams had more rushing yards than passing yards. Patriots had 175 rushing to 128 passing; the Bengals 164 rushing to 151 passing.
Most fans would be delighted to see their team score 34 points. Somehow, this game felt more like a dull drudge than it felt like a three-score blowout. The Bengals had all but clinched the first draft pick. The Patriots clinched a playoff spot. Next week, they had the opportunity to clinch the AFC East with a home win against the Buffalo Bills; Buffalo was a single game behind the Patriots.