Are the Patriots guilty of filming the Bengals’ sideline? It sure seems it.
Is it a potentially nefarious decision that will result in a penalty? Probably.
Are they to blame? Sure.
But were they “cheating?” Please.
That’s not to admonish the New England Patriots and Bob Kraft TV for their stupid ways over the weekend in Cleveland, where the camera crew had acquired a press pass, but was ultimately lost for common sense.
Head coach Bill Belichick has adamantly insisted that the football operations side of things had nothing to do with whatever package for which the web production team was getting footage. It only seems logical to believe him, even if the head coach insists on having his fingerprints on every, single component of the franchise. After all, does anybody really think Bill felt the need for editorial approval on a cheerleading feature displaying band toe taps? How about plank pylometrics? It seems easy to assume he also has no clue about what goes into making the “Do Your Job” series.
Kraft Sports Productions blundered their day in Cleveland, particularly in front of NFL personnel who are always waiting for the next Patriots scandal to fall into their lap. But it’s either the Patriots football folks are doing this all the time (Belichick’s impassioned pleas to Mona Lisa Vito would speak otherwise) in Kraft TV disguise and not getting caught by whatever three blind mice are with them in the press box, or this just happened to be some overzealous Bruins fanatic going above and beyond for B-roll.
Because if the offensively-challenged Patriots need to cheat in order to beat the pathetic, 1-12 Bengals, then things are much worse than anybody could have possibly imagined.
This week’s predictions
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 27, Bengals 14. “It’s on to the Bengals for the Patriots this week, which is a good thing after two straight losses. The Patriots are having offensive issues, but the Bengals should be a tonic to fix that. Look for Tom Brady to get it going here as the Patriots end their losing streak.”
CBS Sports staff: Six out of eight pick the Patriots (-9.5). Everybody has New England straight-up.
Jimmy Kempski, Philly Voice: Patriots (-8.5). “The guy filming the sidelines, who works for the Patri*ts and was even wearing Boston Bruins gear, surely could not have known anything about the history of the Patri*ts’ Spygate scandal, and even if he legitimately didn’t, the professional scout he was filming wouldn’t know to say, “Dude are you seriously taping their sidelines right now? You should probably cut that out immediately and burn your camera.” Also, the alibi that the video production team was shooting a documentary pretty much exactly matches the one the team provided to its cheating crew if they got caught back in Spygate I.”
Michael Hurley, CBS Boston: New England (-10). “The Patriots are bad by their own relative standards. But they’re not even in the same realm as the Bengals. Let’s be serious. Something fun: The Bengals give up sacks on 8.6 percent of their pass plays, 10th-worst in the league. The Patriots’ defense records sacks on 9.4 percent of opponents’ dropbacks, sixth-best in the league.”
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 24, Bengals 13. “”We’re on to Cincinnati” is the Patriots’ literal rallying cry once again after losing in the most frustrating way to the Chiefs. They will keep it simple and avoid putting pressure on Tom Brady in a limited passing game by turning to a successful power running game with Sony Michel, then backing that up with dominant defense and special teams. This feels like one of their early-season routs, only with less style points (and actual points) on the road.”
Todd Haislop, Sporting News: Patriots 31, Bengals 14. “New England is on to Cincinnati at the perfect time. Nothing can cure the Patriots’ struggles quite like a matchup against the NFL’s worst team. With that said, if Tom Brady and New England’s offense can’t get back on track this week, against a defense that allows 410.2 yards per game, the already-rising level of doubt surrounding their title chances will skyrocket.”
MassLive staff: Everybody has the Patriots (-9.5). “Are the Bengals motivated by the fact that nobody thinks the Patriots would waste their time cheating against them?”
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 34, Bengals 13. “Already destined to be a blowout, Cincinnati’s instigation of Spygate 2 will make it even worse for the home team.”
Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 31, Bengals 10. “The Patriots won’t need to steal signals to blow out the Bengals.”
Five Thirty Eight: New England, 82 percent (-10.5).
Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Patriots 24, Bengals 16. “Credit the Patriots‘ two-game losing streak, their “Do Your Job” video series and the presence of Andy Dalton for giving this otherwise-uneven matchup some juice. With the Patriots‘ offensive line playing worse by the week, this improved Bengals front could be a legitimate problem, especially if Geno Atkins lines up against the Patriots‘ third-string center. Julian Edelman being banged up doesn’t help, either. And while Dalton came down to Earth in his second start back in the saddle, he helped the Bengals gain 451 yards in Cleveland. This game should be closer than the records indicate, unless you believe that motivational mumbo jumbo is going to fix this Patriots offense, with the team using another spicy week as a rallying cry. Whether trying to explain a football result or the latest Patriots controversy, the whole truth often seems just out of reach.”
It says here: Patriots 21, Bengals 10. It would have been 21-3, but having the B-roll taken away might amount to a Bengals touchdown.