Week 16 NFL: Previewing the Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots matchup

December 20, 2022 06:29 PM

Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots

Joe Burrow and the Bengals got off to a slow start in September, and their Week 15 game at Tampa Bay was a microcosm of the season. Cincinnati, a 3.5-point favorite, trailed the Buccaneers 17-0 late in the second quarter before reeling off 34 consecutive points in a 34-23 win.

The Bengals are 11-1 ATS in their past 12 games after opening the season 0-2. Burrow, who threw four interceptions in Week 1, passed for four touchdowns against Tampa Bay and has 31 for the season. Cincinnati (10-4) owns a victory over Kansas City and hosts Buffalo in Week 17, so home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs is still within the Bengals’ reach. At the same time, this could be a tricky spot for Cincinnati, which is a 3.5-point road favorite for the second straight week and has a bigger game against the Bills on deck.

The Patriots (7-7) figure to be fully focused on this game with their postseason chances on the line after a fiasco in Las Vegas, where the Raiders trailed by seven in the final minute and rallied for a stunning 30-24 win as time expired. Mac Jones passed for only 112 yards and made an embarrassing tackle attempt on Chandler Jones’ 48-yard fumble return on the final play.

While Mac Jones struggled all day, New England was able to move the ball on the ground. Rhamondre Stevenson had 172 of the team’s 206 rushing yards. The Patriots should have some offensive success against Cincinnati, which is missing defensive ends Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson because of injuries. The Bengals rank 30th in the NFL in sacks (22), with Hubbard and Hendrickson combining for 12.5, so the New England offensive line has a better shot of giving Jones more time to throw.

This is typically the type of spot to back Bill Belichick as a home dog. He’s off a bad loss and returning home for a must-win game. Burrow is one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league, and Cincinnati has been a cash machine for the betting public. It’s not easy to do, but if you can overlook some of the Patriots’ shortcomings, you can talk yourself into taking the points.

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