FOXBOROUGH, Mass. _ The coldest game of the Joe Burrow Era was supposed to kickoff at about 187 degrees, but it was really going to feel like a Joe B-rrr one-degree in Saturday's game against the 7-7 Patriots at sunny, wind-swept Gillette Stadium,
With gusts up to 25 miles per hour, the 10-4 Bengals tried to match their longest late-season winning streak with their seventh straight win. On the 50th anniversary weekend of the Immaculate Reception, the Bengals are trying to channel the 1970 Bengals when they won their seventh straight in the season finale, 45-7, over the Joe Kapp-led Boston Patriots on Dec. 20 at Riverfront Stadium with Bengals Ring of Honor member Ken Riley securing Cincinnati's first division title on two interceptions.
The Bengals eyed their first unbeaten November and December ever in their coldest game since the 19-degree start in Baltimore on the last day of 2017, when wide receiver Tyler Boyd knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs with his 49-yard fourth-and-12 touchdown catch in the last minute. It was 16 degrees at the start of a 2015 Monday night game in Denver. The club's coldest game this century, according to Elias, was the nine-degree win over the Jags on Dec. 17, 2000 featuring Peter Warrick's punt return TD at Paycor Stadium.
DEFENDING BURROW: According to Next Gen Stats, the Patriots play man coverage 40 percent of the time and single-high shells (most in the NFL at 69.7 percent) and are top 10 in passer rating allowed in man (87.1) and second in single-safety coverages (89). Meanwhile, Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase and college running mate Justin Jefferson have the NFL's most touchdown catches against single-high safety shells this season with seven. Chase is also eighth with 390 yards and tied for six with five touchdown catches against man.
Next Gen reports Burrow has been solid against pretty much everything. He's got top ten passer ratings against man, zone, single-high shell, split-safety shell and all-out blitz coverages (Cover 0).
INACTIVES: Opting to protect their banged-up secondary, the Bengals inactivated running back Chris Evans Saturday after promoting rookie cornerback Allen George from the practice squad on Friday. Slot cornerback Mike Hilton (knee) is back after missing last week and so is cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt (shoulder) after leaving late last week. But backup slot cornerback Jalen Davis (thumb) is inactive again.
So is tight end Hayden Hurst (calf), as well as offensive linemen Jackson Carman and D'Ante Smith. Defensive end Sam Hubbard (calf), ruled out earlier in the week, was also inactive for just the second time in his five seasons.
CAPTAIN: As expected, former Patriot Ted Karras was appointed a game captain and he's the only one that went out for the toss. He called tails, lost and the Pats deferred.