Patriots face a tough test in Cincinnati

For the second straight week, the Patriots (4-0) face a tough challenge on the road, this time against the Cincinnati Bengals, who are 2-0 at Paul Brown Stadium this season.

The Bengals (2-2) lost to the Chicago Bears in Week 1, 24-21, in a game that they led 21-10 in the third quarter, and last week lost to the Cleveland Browns, 17-6.

The reality is that the Bengals are better than their record suggests. Save for a few misguided plays, like Andy Dalton’s fumble in the third quarter when they trailed Cleveland, 7-3, on Sunday, Cincinnati could be undefeated.

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At least that’s how Bill Belichick is viewing Sunday’s opponent.

“I think they’re pretty good,” Belichick said before Friday’s practice. “They lost a very close game to Chicago in the opener and certainly could’ve won last week against Cleveland, it wouldn’t have taken too much.

“I think this is a team that’s a couple plays away from being 4-0 and I think they’re going to win their share of games this year, I just hope its not this week. I think they’re a good team, I think they’ve played well and could easily be 4-0…which is the way we look at it.”

According to Belichick, preparing for Sunday’s game has been difficult because the Patriots don’t play the Bengals often.

New England is 14-8 against Cincinnati, but hasn’t played the Bengals since 2010, when the Patriots took a 38-24 victory. They also won in 2004, 2006 and 2007, and last lost to Cincinnati, 23-17, on the road in 2001.

“We don’t have a lot of experience, we’ve seen them a lot on film and played against them last year and a couple years, so a lot of preparation things on their end and getting things right on our end,” Belichick said. “It’s been a challenging week.”