Smug Bill is already past Cincinnati
Sunday night, America watched a football team transform itself in six days.
After being completely dominated and embarrassed on Monday Night Football, in every aspect of the game, the New England Patriots put on a clinic in how to win a football game against a 3-0 Cincinnati Bengals team coming off their bye week.
They also proved me wrong in the process. (See my sky-is-falling Week Four recap.)
We still don’t know who the Patriots are at this point, but we’ve now seen the worst and the best they have to offer. Will they resemble this latest incarnation the rest of the season or was this just a blip of intensity that will fade as the season wears on?
The coaching staff finally came up with a game plan that made sense, exploiting opposition weakness and playing to their own strengths. The run game sizzled and opened up some opportunities for Brady to return to form. Revis Island was allowed to be Revis Island – but a hamstring injury will really cramp this still sketchy secondary, especially with Devin McCourty getting hurt, too. With those guys out of the lineup, Andy Dalton made the Patriots D look as inept as they did against the Chiefs.
We also saw the emergence of Tim Wright and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Wearing number 81, Wright looked a lot like Gronk’s former TE mate, explosive and athletic. Before the season, I made a prediction that fantasy owners should stash this guy away. I was getting a little concerned after the first four weeks came and went without a Wright sighting. But he looks like he knows the playbook now.
Belichick couldn’t say it enough, “We’re on to Cincinnati.” Looks like he wasn’t lying. Bengals fans have to wonder what Marvin Lewis & Co. were on to the past few weeks. You have two weeks to prepare for a team coming off a short week and that’s the best you can come up with? Yikes. It’s like getting a delay of game penalty coming out of a timeout.
For personal reasons, I’m extra happy the Pats cruised to a resounding win as it makes my work week much easier to bear. Living in Cincinnati with another Bengal win over the Pats might’ve been too much for me to stomach. For all my Bengal-fan friends, I’d be as worried about your team as I am about mine. The Patriots are a middling team right now and you just got whooped. But at least you have serious, serious talent all over that team. As long as the playoffs aren’t played in Prime Time, the Bengals should do fine.
With a visit to Ralph Wilson stadium on the horizon, let’s hope Belichick and the Patriots are on to Buffalo. The Bills, in spite of EJ Manuel’s failed development, have played well and are tied with the Patriots for first in the AFC East. Kyle Orton is serviceable and Fred Jackson routinely blitzes the Patriots. This game may come down to who keeps the momentum and intensity churning.
On final thought: Maybe Rex Ryan should spend less time jabbing Belichick and more time getting the Jets heads out of their collective sphincters. Actually, keep talking Rex. Karm-atically speaking, it only makes the road to AFC East title easier for the Pats (or Bills).