Key Matchups: Bengals vs. Patriots

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KEY MATCHUPS
OCTOBER 1, 2006

An NFL scout joins our roster of observers that includes a former NFL personnel head (The Guru) and a current NFL player personnel director (The Chief) as they break down Bengals-Patriots, a tight matchup in which they give a slight edge to the Bengals citing home field, the Pats offensive woes, and the Bengals' younger athleticism.

"I just don't think they're going to be able to score to keep up with Cincinnati," The Guru says. "New England just has no firepower on offense. They're really searching for big-play people and they just don't have them right now. If they can give Carson Palmer time, he should be able to attack that secondary with the receivers they have."

The Chief: "The Bengals are catching the Patriots at just the right time because they're in transition. They've always been a team that has set up the run with the pass and now that they're struggling in the passing game, I think they're going to have to take a step back and see where they are."

The Scout: "The Patriots are a good, solid veteran team, but I think the Bengals have more athleticism."

WHEN THE BENGALS HAVE THE BALL
* center>QB Carson Palmer vs. Pats QB Tom Brady*

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Palmer

But QBs are judged on wins and losses, and no QB is better in the NFL in that than Brady. Brady is taking needless heat for his play last Sunday. But, hey, how would Palmer play if defenses took Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh away from him? Beware Brady even if he's throwing to Mitt Romney. Under his leadership the Pats have gone 52 straight games without losing two straight and that's why he's a very dangerous man Sunday.

The Pats are known to switch out of a 3-4 to a 4-3, but The Scout says, "They just watched Pittsburgh get pressure with a 3-4 and I have to believe they're going to leave a nose on Ghiaciuc."

The Scout says, "He can bull rush you, speed rush you, and do it from tackle and end."

Of course, Belichick may not blitz at all to protect his secondary but know that he'll have his DBs pounding on them. Composure may be the password running routes in the secondary this week.

"I think he's still good, but they've also got a threat running the ball in rookie Laurence Maroney," The Scout says. "He's going to be a very good back. He is now. He's fast, tough, and he's got good contact balance. A good change-of-pace because Corey is still a power guy."

"The Bengals linebackers aren't slow," The Scout says. "Maybe not as fast as Denver, but those guys like Brian Simmons and Landon Johnson can run, too."

When Smith or Geathers tries him, expect O'Callaghan to get some help in a double team. "It's a solid O-line," The Scout says.

"This kid will be good," The Guru says. "But he's not Vinatieri yet."

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