New England Patriots vs Cincinnati Bengals Matchup Preview 12/15/19: Analysis, Depth Charts, Daily Fantasy
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This week, the Cincinnati Bengals will host the New England Patriots in what should be a blowout victory for the Pats. This season, Cincy has been the league’s worst unit, with only one win on the books. At this point in the season, Andy Dalton, and most Bengals players are playing for job security next season. Similarly, the Patriots’ offense is also looking for ways to retool their roster after losing two straight games. In fact, their recent offensive inefficiency has a lot of people wondering if Brady will be New England’s signal-caller next season.
Date: Sunday, December 15th, 2019
Time: 1:00 PM ET
Location: Paul Brown Stadium – Cincinnati, OH
New England Patriots: T. Karras (Knee/MCL) Q, N. Harry (Hip) Q, T. Brady (Elbow) Q, B. Cowart (Head) Q, G. Olszewski (Ankle) IR, J. Johnson (Shoulder) IR, S. Gostkowski (Hip) IR, J. Develin (Neck) IR, M. Gant (Undisclosed) IR, D. Andrews (Illness) IR, H. Froholdt (Undisclosed) IR, D. Rivers (Undisclosed) IR, K. Davis (Undisclosed) IR, B. King (Quadriceps) IR, D. Ross (Undisclosed) IR
Cincinnati Bengals: A. Green (Ankle) Q, A. Tate (Knee/MCL) Q, S. Hubbard (Knee) Q, D. Sample (Ankle) IR, B. Wilson (Hand) IR, A. Redmond (Biceps) IR, D. Kirkpatrick (Knee) IR, R. Glasgow (Knee) IR, K. Wynn (Concussion) IR, O. Dugas (Undisclosed) IR, J. Williams (Shoulder/Labrum) PUP, R. Anderson (Knee/ACL) IR, N. Scott (Undisclosed) IR
New England Patriots Analysis:
While Tom Brady’s box score statistics, like touchdowns and passing yardage, are pretty good, his advanced stats are average at best. For instance, Tom Brady’s QBR is currently 51.6, which is lower than Jameis Winston’s, who currently leads the NFL in turnovers. The main issue for Brady has been the Patriots’ inability to move the ball deep down the field. Amongst all quarterbacks with at least seven starts, Brady currently is ranked 29th in terms of yards/attempt, which is the fifth-lowest of all qualifying QBs.
New England’s inability to make big plays isn’t all Brady’s fault, it’s mainly due to their weakness at wide receiver and tight end. So far, the Pats receiving game has been a one-man crew, led by Julian Edelman, who is the only Pats WR with 350+ receiving yards. Coming into the season, the Patriots were supposed to be loaded at WR, but have fallen well short of expectations due to injuries suffered by N’Keal Harry coupled with the releases of Josh Gordon and Antonio Brown. To make matters worse, there no. 1 TE is Ben Watson, who is getting up there in age, and doesn’t have the explosiveness that Rob Gronkowski had in his prime.
Unless the Patriots plan on re-signing Antonio Brown, they desperately need to fix their running game. Presently, the Patriots have the league’s tenth fewest rushing yards per game, and Sony Michel just doesn’t have the elusiveness to force missed tackles. Furthermore, Michel also ranks last in the NFL in terms of yards after contact per rush, indicating that he isn’t effective at shedding contact either. Even if the Pats’ offensive line creates the most significant holes in the NFL, it’s imperative that Michel finds a way to maximize his rushing opportunities. Luckily, he’ll have a chance to do so against a porous Bengals run defense that is the worst in the league.
Despite having a lackluster offense, the Patriots defense has been the most daunting in the NFL. The Patriots currently rank first in terms of restricting total yards/game and points/game, with an extraordinary emphasis placed on stopping opposing passing attacks. In fact, the Patriots secondary has played phenomenally well and currently leads the league in terms of interceptions.
However, the Patriots defense Achilles’ heel seems to be dual-threat quarterbacks. All of New England’s loses this season have been to teams with a dual-threat like Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson. In fact, the Patriots’ worst loss came against Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens, who ran circles around them. Luckily for the Patriots, neither Andy Dalton nor Ryan Finley is particularly mobile, so they should fare well against the shoddy Bengals.
New England Patriots Depth Chart
Cincinnati Bengals Analysis:
Currently, the Cincinnati Bengals are a tanking roster with one sole victory to their name. Veteran quarterback, Andy Dalton’s days appear to be numbered, with many Bengals fans clamoring, “bungle for (Joe) Burrow.” Over his career, Dalton has been a quality, tier-three quarterback who has played decently well statistically. Although, this season, Andy Dalton has struggled against quality secondaries like the Ravens, Bills, and Steelers (1 TD, 4 INT, 60.7 passer rating), so it’s safe to predict that he’ll continue to struggle against New England.
Similarly to Andy Dalton, A.J. Green might be on his way out as well, after he gave the Bengals an ultimatum demanding a long term contract or a release. AJ Green has missed 21 games since the start of the 2018 season and 33 total games throughout nine-year his career (which is the equivalent of two seasons plus one game). During his absence, other wideouts, like Tyler Boyd and Auden Tate, have displayed flashes of potential. In fact, Boyd currently has the league’s eighth-highest contested catch rate, indicating that he is a safe receiving option, who could definitely replace Green if need be.
Since week ten, Joe Mixon has had a very volatile season rushing the football. Even though Cincy’s offensive line has been the second-worst unit in terms of run blocking, Mixon has made the most of his carries and currently ranks 14th in terms of rushing yards. Moreover, Mixon has been excellent at ball security by refraining from losing any fumbles this year. He’ll have his work cut out for him against a Patriots front seven that holds opponents to the fourth lowest rushing yardage per game, but he’s a safer option to lean on than Cincy’s passing attack.
Overall, the Bengals are just a lousy defense. They surrender the second-most yards per game, the most rushing yards per game, and give up 25 points per game (10th most in the NFL). Moreover, the Bengals have the league’s third-least efficient total defense, and the league’s second least efficient passing defense. Even though New England’s offense has struggled in recent weeks, they are more than capable of decimating this completely inept defense. Therefore it’s safe to say that New England will have one of their best offensive outings on Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals Depth Chart
Julian Edelman has been one of fantasy football’s biggest surprises. Due to the lack of talent at the Pats’ WR and TE positions, Edelman commands the second-largest target amount in the league. Moreover, Edelman is a safe fantasy option who has scored at least 13 fantasy points in every game since week five. Cincinnati currently has the league’s second-worst passing defense from an efficiency standpoint, so expect Edelman to go off against them.
Since week seven, Tom Brady has been an underwhelming quarterback from a fantasy standpoint. In fact, Brady has only thrown for two or more TDs in two of his last eight games, which is discouraging for owners who made the playoffs. Plus, the Patriots will most likely run the ball a lot since the Bengals defense surrenders the most rushing yardage in the league. Therefore it’d be smart to avoid Brady in week 15 unless you can’t find a better streaming option.
Despite missing one game this season, Tyler Boyd has recorded the sixth-most targets amongst all pass-catchers in the NFL. This means that similarly to Edelman, Boyd has one of the highest ceilings for a WR every week. Besides that, Boyd has scored 12+ fantasy points in five of his last six games this season, which indicates that he is a relatively safe fantasy option. Boyd is a terrific WR2/flex option in week 15 but falls short of WR1 status due to his matchup against a stout Patriots defense.
After starting the season off horribly, Joe Mixon has witnessed a resurgence since week 8. Since then, Mixon has scored 17+ points in all but one game and averaged 22.3 fantasy points in consecutive weeks. Moreover, after failing to gain a rushing TD through his first ten weeks, Mixon has scored three rushing TDs since week 11. Similar to Boyd, Mixon is a great RB2/flex option because of his matchup against a tough Patriots run D, but you should add him to your roster if you’re in the playoffs.