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Cincinnati Bengals visit the New England Patriots
Week 1 NFL Prediction
Betting Line: Patriots -4.5 O/U 45
John J. Raspanti
Division winners from last year with identical records (10-6) Cincinnati and New England tangle in Foxboro in what could turn out to be a shootout. The visiting Bengals have a couple of pretty good receivers named Owens and Ochocinco and quarterback Carson Palmer who threw for 21 touchdowns last year. Their offense is supplemented by running back Cedric Benson who had a breakout year in gaining 1,251 and scoring six TDs.
The Patriots have all pro Tom Brady as their quarterback. Brady threw 28 touchdown passes last year. Brady likes to go deep to Randy Moss and drop it off to the shifty Wes Walker underneath. Walker is coming back from major knee surgery and reportedly is starting against the Bengals. It will be interesting to see how coach Belichick uses him. Running back Lawrence Maroney hopes to improve on his 757 rushing yards from last year but the Patriots pass first and run second.
The Bengals have the better defense and play the run very well. Domata Peko and Tank Johnson do a good job of clogging up the middle. Their linebacking crew is one of the best in the league lead by Keith Rivers. Their secondary will be tested by Brady and T.O and Chad but Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph are quite the tandem. Their key will be their pass rush, they must put pressure on Brady and force him to make a mistake.
The Patriots defense is average at best. They did do well last year against the pass (allowing 209 yards per game) but getting to Carson Palmer could be difficult for this defense and stopping Cedric Benson could be a challenge too, but the Patriots do have nose tackle Vince Wilford who's arguably the best run stopper in the NFL and inside linebacker Jerod Mayo.
Intangibles...the game is in Foxboro where the Pats were 8-0 last year. The Bengals split their eight games on the road last year, so they must get off to a good start and avoid any costly turnovers. What the Bengals we're lacking last year, and what ultimately caused their demise, was a lack of targets for Palmer. T.O is still a big concern for opposing corners. Last year teams could double up on Ochocinco. This year they won't have that luxury and that should make a world of difference for this Bengals team. We'll take the Bengals +4.5 despite the line move from +6.
Cincinnati is 1-7 ATS in its last 8 games
Cincinnati is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games
Cincinnati is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Cincinnati's last 6 games when playing New England
Cincinnati is 1-6 SU in its last 7 games when playing New England
Cincinnati is 1-6 SU in its last 7 games when playing on the road against New England
New England is 2-4-1 ATS in its last 7 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of New England's last 7 games
New England is 14-7 SU in its last 21 games
New England is 9-1 SU in its last 10 games at home
New England is 2-8 ATS in its last 10 games when playing Cincinnati
The total has gone OVER in 4 of New England's last 6 games when playing Cincinnati
New England is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games when playing Cincinnati
New England is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games when playing at home against Cincinnati
New England is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games when playing at home against Cincinnati