No intro this week. Rob Gronkowski’s daddy told me not to.
This week’s predictions:
Zuri Berry, Boston.com staff: Patriots. “The Patriots are holding opponents to 14.3 points per game, sixth best in the league. The Bengals are coming off a week in which they struggled against the Browns, one of the best defenses in the NFL. “
Globe staff: Four out of five pick the Patriots (Bengals by one).
Don Banks, Sports Illustrated: Patriots 24, Bengals 20. “Picked against the Patriots last week and lived to regret it. The Bengals were my preseason AFC Super Bowl selection, but third-year quarterback Andy Dalton is not giving any indications he’s about to take the necessary step up in weight class from the middleweight division. New England is going to sweat out another narrow victory and then it’ll head home to prepare for a glamor showdown against Drew Brees and the high-powered Saints in Week 6.”
ESPN.com staff: Eight out of 13 pick the Patriots.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports.com: Bengals 27, Patriots 24. “This is a huge game for the Bengals since they are coming off a road loss to the Browns. The offense has to get it cranked it up. That means more from Andy Dalton. The Patriots are playing consecutive road games, which is tough. I see the Bengals front getting after Tom Brady in this one.”
CBS Sports.com staff: Six out of eight go with New England.
Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Patriots 27, Bengals 20. “Upset! I know three of the Patriots’ four wins have been narrow. I also know losing run-stopper Vince Wilfork leaves a huge void. But I just trust Tom Brady SO much more than I trust sloppy Andy Dalton, and now it looks like Brady might have Danny Amendola back. English have won six in a row on the road, and Bill Belichick is 13-3 all-time vs. ’Gals.”
USA Today staff: Five out of seven pick the Pats.
Yahoo! sports staff: Split decision.
Peter Schrager, Foxsports.com: Patriots 24, Bengals 20. “The Giants and Steelers are off to disappointing starts to the 2013 season, sure, but what’s up with everybody’s preseason favorites — the Cincinnati Bengals? After a summer of endless hype and the widespread popularity that comes with a season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks”, the Bengals have limped out of the gates with a 2-2 record. Is Andy Dalton the guy? That’s a heck of a defense and arguably the best number one wide receiver in the league on the roster. They shouldn’t be losing to Cleveland.”
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com: Bengals 27, Patriots 24. “Florio’s take: The Bengals are learning how to be a good team. A week after failing to win a game they should have, the Bengals find a way to prevail in a contest many assume they’ll lose. And down goes another of the undefeated.”
Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk.com: Bengals 21, Patriots 20. “The Patriots will miss Vince Wilfork’s presence on the defensive line. Look for Bengals running back Giovani Bernard to have a big day as the Patriots suffer their first loss of the season.”
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 24, Bengals 23. “So for the second consecutive week, the perfect Patriots are road underdogs. And for the second straight week, we like them to remain lead dogs. It’s amazing how Tom Brady can make any mix of weapons work, while the Bengals, even with dazzling young skill talent, can still stagnate around Andy Dalton. Brady should have one of his top targets (Danny Amendola) back, and their defense will help them hold on late.”
It says here: Patriots 52, Bengals 10. Austin Collie with three touchdowns.