5 Things to Know About the Patriots' Week 15 Opponent: The Cincinnati Bengals
There is no good in sugar coating it. The Cincinnati Bengals are the worst team in the league. They are ranked 32nd in virtually every power ranking you can find on the internet. They are a team that is waiting for the season to end, hoping to land the no. 1 pick in next year's draft, and hoping to build for the future.
But for those who have not been keeping up with New England's Week 15 opponent, let's review five things you should know about the Bengals before they kickoff at Paul Brown Stadium Sunday afternoon.
1) Bengals have a rookie head coach: Zac Taylor
The Patriots know Bengals head coach Zac Taylor from last year's Super Bowl against the Los Angeles Rams. He served as the quarterback coach under Sean McVay and offensive coordinator Greg Olson.
The hiring was one of the first signs that Cincinnati is looking to move on from the Bengals of the past and start to rebuild this team. Taylor brings some creativeness and inovation that he learned from McVay, which should help Joe Mixon develop into a star running back, and should help some of their young, talented receivers finally blossom.
However, right now, the Bengals simply do not have the supporting cast for Taylor to create a top tier NFL offense. Cincinnati fans hope that will change after next year's draft.
2) Bengals suffer big loss with Auden Tate
One of Andy Dalton's biggest weapons since returning from a three-game benching has now been placed on IR. Wide receiver Auden Tate was a bright spot for a couple games in Cincinnati and provided another receiving target outside of Tyler Boyd.
Now, Dalton finds himself down to Boyd and former first round pick John Ross at receiver, along with Mixon, who he like to target out of the backfield.
Being short a weapon makes it easier for the Patriots to stop the Bengals' offense.
3) More injuries downgrade the Bengals' upset chances
Another week, another game without AJ Green for the Bengals. He has yet to suit up for the team this season and probably won't at this point. Cincinnati already ruled him out for this game and it might be a bad move to put a star player in a position where he could suffer another injury in a season where the playoffs are already off the table.
Darqueze Dennard is another name to watch for. The former first round cornerback is listed as questionable for the Week 15 contest, and it would be a crushing loss if he cannot play. He is one of their starting corners and would likely cover Julian Edelman on Sunday.
A game without Dennard would open up the flood gates for Patriots' receivers, as Bengals CB William Jackson has not impressed this season and the next guy up in Dennard's absence would be BW Webb, who has three interceptions and 25 passes defended in six NFL seasons.
4) Turnovers differential for both teams could not be more different
The Patriots lead the league with a staggering +19 turnover differential, meaning they have 19 more takeaways than turnovers this season. Second on that list is the Pittsburgh Steelers with +12. Meanwhile, if you scroll all the way down, you will find the Bengals at -11. That is good for 30th in the league in turnover differential.
One of the best teams in the league at taking the ball away (Patriots) will be playing one of the worst teams at protecting it (Bengals). That could spell disaster for Cincinnati on Sunday.
5) Overall team rankings
Here are the rankings for each facet of the Bengals' offense and defense (according to ESPN):
Total offense- 25th
Total defense- 31st
Rush offense- 28th
Pass offense- 17th
Rush defense- 32nd
Pass defense- 18th