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Patriots – Bengals Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
4 years ago at 6:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary

Patriots – Bengals Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?Matthew Emmons - USA TODAY Sports

Patriots RBs vs Bengals Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Cincinnati
The Patriots running game with LeGarrette Blount has been a strength this season so far but they struggled to run the ball with any continuity last week. The running game averaged just 2.8 yards per carry against Cleveland, which was a surprise going into the game. James White and rookie D.J. Foster also got some work in, but the ground game mostly was stifled.

The Bengals front seven is very stout against the run; what happened in Dallas last week was an anomaly, not necessarily a trend. Their front seven is big and physical with DL Domata Peko on the nose with Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap flanking him. LBs Vontaze Burfict and Rey Maualuga are downhill run-stuffing types who are very tough against the run.

Unlike the first month of the season where they were a run-first team, look for the Patriots to pass to open up some running room against the Bengals. They’ll look to soften them up in the air to get some gaps for Blount and James White to try to exploit this week. I’m not expecting this to be a big statistical week for the running game. What they’d like to do is stay balanced and patient with the running game again.

Patriots WRs vs Bengals Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England
The Patriots passing game transformed in the blink of an eye once Brady stepped back on the field. They finally resemble the unit we waited to see all summer long. With a double dose of tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett, the mismatches created are impressive. Brady still has Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, and Malcolm Mitchell on the outside as well as White and D.J. Foster out of the backfield.

The Bengals have the aforementioned front four with Dunlap, Atkins, Michael Johnson as well as Michael Clarke who has chipped in three sacks in a sub role. But their pass defense has been inconsistent this year. The communication in the back end has broken down on occasion, resulting in big plays. Adam “Pac-Man” Jones hasn’t been the player he has been in the past and that is part of the issue.

It is the tight ends here that can make the big difference for New England. With Gronkowski and Bennett stressing the secondary, they can open things both underneath and on the perimeter. Although it is crazy to look so far back, in the 2014 contest with much the same personnel as today, the Patriots tight ends, both Gronkowski and Tim Wright had big days with a combined 185 yards receiving.

Look for Brady to use both of the big guys to jump start the offense this week. That will loosen things up for Edelman/Amendola and the chance to hit a deep pass or two again with Hogan.

Next up the Cincinnati offense:


Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2016 NFL Season 2016 Patriots season A.J. Green Andy Dalton Bill Belichick Brandon LaFell Carlos Dunlap Chris Hogan Cincinnati Bengals Danny Amendola Dion Lewis Domata Peko Dont'a Hightower Geno Atkins Giovanni Bernard Jabaal Sheard Jeremy Hill Jimmy Garoppolo Julian Edelman LaGarrette Blount Malcolm Butler Marvin Lewis Michael Clarke Michael Johnson New England Patriots Patriots Patriots edge rushers picks Rob Gronkowski Rob Ninkovich Tom Brady Trey Flowers Vontaze Burfict

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