A week after facing arguably the greatest QB of all-time in Tom Brady, the Cincinnati Bengals will face arguably the greatest head coach of all-time in Bill Belichick.
After a rough 2-4 start last year, the Pats reeled off seven-straight wins and eventually earned a Wild Card berth.
Don’t expect New England to have another rough start again this year, assuming Mac Jones continues to develop entering just his second NFL season. He showed a lot of potential as a rookie and could very well be a top-15 QB this season, especially if new addition DeVante Parker can stay healthy and be a legitimate No. 1 receiver.
The defense may lack star power, but it still ranked fourth in yards allowed and second in points allowed in 2021, as Belichick has rarely had a subpar defense in his coaching career. Look for that to continue this year, though he’s obviously not had to face the Bengals offense with Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, AND a competent offensive line.
As long as the Bengals have all of that, I’m picking them to win what should be a close Week 16 battle in Foxborough. It is worth noting that Belichick has lost just once to the Bengals since 2002 and never at home while coaching the Patriots. Time to end that streak.
ESPN FPI: Bengals have a 44% chance to win.
My prediction: Bengals 31, Patriots 24
My predicted record thus far: 12-3
Let us know how you see this matchup playing out!