Tonight on NBC, The Cincinnati Bengals will travel to Foxboro to take on the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football. The Patriots turned a very easy start of their schedule into a dismal 2-2 start. Tom Brady’s throwing the ball like Thom Yorke, and the Patriots offensive line is blocking worse than Activia yogurt. Because of that, the undefeated Bengals are favored by 1.5 points, despite playing on the road.
That spread isn’t enough, and here are 5 reasons why:
1. Tom Brady’s Throwing Arm is Old News
Tom Brady took a lot of heat last year for not being able to throw the long ball. On deep routes, Brady missed his receivers at an alarming rate. Some pundits tried to attribute it to the lack of a deep threat wide receiver like Randy Moss. While that’s part of the problem, Brady’s struggles have continued this year. His accuracy is simply shot. He’s got Gronk back and Edelman has taken over Wes Welker’s role just fine, but Brady still has the worst completion percentage on deep passes in the NFL. And it’s not close.
Tom Brady is 1-for-16 on deep passes this year, per @pff. That’s last (by far) of the 27 qualifiers. Intriguing Austin Davis is first.
— scott pianowski (@scott_pianowski) October 4, 2014
2. The Bengals Pass Defense Is Stellar
The Bengals have allowed the lowest completion percentage in the National Football League, at 54.3%. That’s less than 240 yards per game. Plus, they’ve only allowed 2 passing touchdowns all season. The Patriots have a good defense, but it won’t mean much if the offense can’t put the ball in the endzone.
3. Giovani Bernard Changes Defenses
Gio Bernard didn’t see the ball much in Cincy’s route of the Texans last week, mostly because he didn’t need to. But simply being on the field forces defenses to defend against his dual threat capabilities. The slippery, speedy back is featured much more this year than he was last. He’s averaging 12.3 yards per reception, and caught at least 5 passes in each of his first two contests. Plus, he’s a big threat in the running game with the potential to break one for a touchdown from anywhere on the field.
4. Mohamed Sanu Has Been A Stud
Marvin Jones is unlikely to be back on Sunday, but Mohamed Sanu has made us forget about him. Sanu is more than just a decoy that can throw passes on occasion. AJ Green is obviously the top dog in Cincy, but Sanu is averaging 4 carries for 54 yards per game so far this season, and Dalton and the Bengals’ coaching staff have shown an increased confidence in putting the ball in Sanu’s hands. It’d be nice to have Jones back in the lineup, but The Bengals shouldn’t miss too many beats with Sanu.
5. The Bengals Own Margin of Victory
In three games, the Bengals have outscored their opponents 80-33. That’s an average margin of victory of nearly 16 points per game. The Patriots, meanwhile, have been outscored by 10 points on the season. So, while the Pats have been struggling against lesser opponents, the Bengals are dominating decent teams.
On Sunday, the Patriots will prove to be a lesser opponent, while the Bengals will exert their dominance.
The Pick: Bengals 24, Patriots 16