Enough ingredients for upset?

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VS.

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KEY MATCHUPS
OCTOBER 1, 2007

The Bengals.com roundtable is murmuring just like the national media about this one. The unbeaten Patriots look as invincible as any team from any era and the Bengals are hurt and reeling. But a Marvin Lewis team has been here at home and pulled the upset.

"Cincinnati is always going to be in every game because they can score and it really helps them they're at home," says The Guru, a former top football executive in the NFL. "I know Rudi Johnson is hurt, but I think you can run on (New England) and they're going to have to because they have to possess the ball and keep (Tom) Brady off the field."

The Chief, a personnel director for a team not in the Bengals division, is like everyone else and is overwhelmed with the talent New England has stockpiled.

"But I think if the Bengals can get into their secondary, they can win," The Chief says. "And if they can go 50 percent in the red area, hold them to field goals half the time, they can do it. But there's no question it is the hugest challenge for any team in the NFL right now."

The Guru: "The obvious edge is to the Patriots, but I'm not counting out the Bengals with their offense and the way that Marvin will get them to play at home."

The Chief: "The Patriots have so many weapons. But bleed the running game, limit the big play, and they don't have to sack Brady but they have to make him uncomfortable. And the Bengals have one of the few offenses that can stay with them."

So there it is. No big plays on defense or special teams. Hog the ball for 35 minutes. Harass Brady. Score points. No turnovers.

WHEN THE BENGALS HAVE THE BALL
* center>QB Carson Palmer vs. Patriots HC Bill Belichick*

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Palmer

Palmer knows he has to take better care of the ball than last Sunday, when one of his two interceptions led to a back-breaking touchdown late in the half. Turnovers against the Patriots are deadly because you just can't miss scoring against them. Since Belichick's first Super Bowl season of 2001, the Patriots allow an average of 17.4 points per game.

Watson could also end up picking up Thomas on the blitz, which is one of his strengths. But since he's also going to be grinding on first and second down, Watson is anxious to show that he's an every-down back.

"He's the guy that broke me in. He was the senior end and I was the left tackle," Whitworth said. "He's a solid player. Jarvis's biggest thing is technique. He's really a strong guy and knows how to play."

"Colvin plays with nice leverage and he plays on instincts," The Chief says. "He's a good pass rusher. He's got the knack with long arms. You can't jump on him because he'll try to turn the corner quickly trying to get upfield."

"With the way their offense is, they know in the first half they're going to have 21 points on the board and be playing with somewhat of a lead and not give up that much," Palmer said, "They're very patient on defense, just as they're patient on offense. You don't see many people throwing balls over their head. You don't see many people attempting to, just because of the way their corners play with depth, the way their safeties get back. They make you be smart, they make you check the ball down, they make you take your time and score."

The Bengals have struggled after halftime since the Pats pounded them 24-7 in the second half last year. In the 10 games the Bengals lost since Oct. 1, 2006, they have been outscored in the second half, 182-110, and a brainiac like Brady can take advantage.

Maroney is nursing a sore groin, but beware his 4.7 yards per carry average n 54 carries.

"It's a good unit. They play well together and they don't make mistakes," The Guru says.

"Both those guys are going to be very good players. They've got all you need back there to make it," he says. "They're young and at that position there are going to be some tough days and plays, and you just have to live through it."

The Bengals have made a massive mistake on special teams in each of the three games. One on Monday will cost them an upset.

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