Who knows what will happen when the Bengals play the New England Patriots. Perhaps the Patriots rebound after an embarrassing Monday Night performance. Perhaps not. Perhaps the same demons that's congested Cincinnati in primetime games returns. Perhaps not. Either way, the Bengals, coming off a bye with several players returning from injury, are on a roll and the New England Patriots, who lost by 13 to the Dolphins and 27 to the Chiefs, are struggling.
Does that mean an obvious conclusion when two AFC powerhouses collide on NBC's Sunday Night Football? Clearly the conversion isn't so much about the game, as it is the Patriots mortality. That said, Kevin Duffy with MassLive.com headlines that the Bengals and Patriots may have reversed roles.
You won’t find many more interesting games on the NFL schedule than the one set for next Sunday night in Foxboro. The Bengals are rolling, winners of their first three in convincing fashion. The Patriots are fizzling, crushed in all facets Monday night, overwhelmed by Kansas City’s physicality and its speed and maybe even the noise and sheer energy at Arrowhead. Word is fans there set the Guinness record for loudest crowd.
The crowd at Gillette next Sunday won’t reach those decibels, but it’ll be as desperate. More desperate, probably. No team needs a win like New England.
What’s undisputable on this Tuesday morning: The Cincinnati Bengals have just opened their window. Fresh air fills the city. New England is getting musty. That thing is damn-near shut.
Even "For The Win", a USA Today NFL blog, actually debated if New England actually had a quarterback controversy... though Brady "stayed cleared of Garoppolo" when the Patriots scored their second touchdown against the Chiefs.
"When they returned to the bench," writes Ben Volin with the Boston Globe, "McDaniels sat in between them — Brady on the bench, Garoppolo on a water cooler. The two quarterbacks didn’t appear to speak. Brady watched the rest of the game silently with his arms folded, with no teammate coming within 20 feet of him."
"There’s not much that we’re doing well enough on a consistent basis to score points," Brady said at his postgame news conference. "I wish there was an easy answer. I don’t think there’s an easy answer. I think we’ve got to fight our way through it and see what kind of team we have."
Before going into an argument of why the Patriots should not be counted out just yet, Greg Knopping with Pats Pulpit (SB Nation's website that covers the Patriots) writes that it's strange. "It's uncomfortable. It's a feeling that hasn't been felt by this team and fanbase for nearly 15 years. More than anything, last night's game was a clear sign of this team's mortality. But fear not -- this is not the end of days. This is not the end of the New England Patriots. There are twelve games to go. There is time for evaluation and improvement. There is time to right this ship. You need proof? In recent years, look at how some of the teams that the Patriots handed a brutish defeat were able to rebound..."
Respectable. If our roles were reversed, we'd say the same thing.
We're different, as Bengals fans. We're worried that saying too much about another team's misfortunes will jinx our boys - force them to forget the terminology of the play, the numbers of the gap or the routes called in the huddle. We're fickle. We're nervous. We're just who we are.
In the meantime, New England attacks their Patriots while the Bengals watch from a distance. Is that good or bad? Who can say. It just is what it is.