Patriots Opening Day

The craziness of this past week is finally over. Or is it? Today’s most entertaining moment may be Bill Belichick’s response to the post game question, “Were this past week’s events a distraction leading up to todays game?”

While all of the experts are predicting that the Patriots will qualify for the playoffs as a wild card team (finishing 2nd in the AFC to the Jets) today’s opener, appropriately enough, is a real wild card game.

The Patriots have had their way with the Bengals the last 3 times they have played (34-13 in ’07, 38-13 in ‘06,35-28 in ’04) but this is a different Bengals team and, like it or not, this is definitely a different Patriots team (not withstanding the same Quarterback). This game is indeed a wild card game which could go anywhere from a 10-14 point Patriots win to a 10-14 point Bengals win. A betters nightmare.

The Bengals are going to score 20 plus points. The Patriots should score more than 25. Whoever gets to 33 wins.

We are going to find out what the loss of Logan Mankins means to this team and its offensive production (aka Tom Brady’s protection, actually Mankins absence will have more effect on the already average running game). We are going to find out if the Patriots young defensive backs can not only defend but if they are capable of making a big play or 2.

Patriots fans expect, of course, a Patriots win and will be shocked by a Patriots loss. A Patriots loss will not shock those around the NFL who expect this game to be very close. I expect the same and in a close game I still have to go with Tom Brady who had better be able to put 35 points on the board. But it is not going to be easy.

5 Things which need to happen for a Patriots win.

-#1 Pressure on Carson Palmer! Tully Banta-Cain? Jermaine Cunningham is my wild card here (hope he plays, alot)

-#2 a defensive back has to come up with a big play/turnover. Brandon Merriweather? Devin McCourt is my wild card here-he is the Pats pro Bowler of the future.

-#3 The Pats running game needs to do something productive. It doesn’t need to be great, just adequate, maybe a little more than adequate-NO turnovers! Lawrence Maroney? Who knows.

-#4 Kicking game needs to be solid. Gostkowski can’t miss makeabale field goals (44 yards and in)

-#5 production from the tight end position and right now it looks like Rob Gronkwoski is Brady’s favorite from that spot.

-MD

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