Sunday, October 6, 2013

Week 5 picks: Patriots at Bengals

Publisher Nick St. Denis, associate editor Dan Begnoche and senior contributor Sean Donovan pick the New England Patriots' AFC bout with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Dan's take:
Though the Pats' 4-0 start may seem like business as usual, three of those four wins have been by a touchdown or less, which speaks volumes about the team's leadership. The Patriots' defense, which lost its leader in Vince Wilfork, is up against a quarterback that has committed six turnovers in the last two games. Look for a breakout performance from Brandon Bolden with Stevan Ridley on the mend and another strong game by Aqib Talib in the secondary.
Prediction: Patriots 24, Bengals 17

Sean's take:
Cincinnati's defensive front will challenge New England's ability to stay balanced on offense. Asserting themselves in the run will be crucial for the Patriots, which will in turn set up Brady and the play action pass, a weapon used by this offense much more frequently and effectively than in recent years. The unsung heroes of New England's offensive line key another grind-it-out victory.
Prediction: Patriots 27, Bengals 17

Nick's take:
The Patriots' offensive line faces a tough test in Cincy's defensive front, led by Geno Atkins, but it is up to the task. Bolden and the offensive front do enough do soften up the Bengals' defense, and Brady finds a rhythm throwing to Julian Edelman, who has quietly been Brady's most reliable target.
Prediction: Patriots 26, Bengals 20