Coming off an impressive road win against the Falcons, the Patriots head into this week’s tilt with the Cincinnati Bengals looking to keep building momentum offensively. They had their most complete offensive performance of the season against a woeful Atlanta defense and would normally face a much stiffer test against the Bengals this week, but Cincinnati enters the weekend with several key players injured.
Cornerbacks Leon Hall and Dre Kirkpatrick both missed Week 4 and Hall has yet to practice as of Thursday night. Safety Reggie Nelson also missed their last game, but like Kirkpatrick, has been practicing on a limited basis according to this week's injury report.
Linebacker Vontaze Burfict also missed practice with a neck injury, further clouding his status for this week.
The Patriots have injuries of their own as Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski are still limited in practice according to the team’s injury report. Receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson are also dinged up.
In a surprise development, running back Steven Ridley has been sidelined all week with a knee injury, so the Patriots ground game is operating with a skeleton crew.
Before diving into this week’s projections, it’s time for some disclosure on how accurate I was in last week’s effort.
I projected Tom Brady for 349 yards and three scores. He fell short with 316 yards and two touchdowns.
Ridley was projected for 83 yards and a score on 19 carries. I wasn’t even close as he notched just 53 yards on 11 totes and remains without a touchdown this season.
I was almost perfect in projecting Brandon Bolden for 14 yards on 5 carries—he had six attempts for 17 yards—but I drastically overestimated his contributions as a receiver. The Patriots did run a few screen plays like I thought, but it was Edelman, not Bolden who benefited.
Fellow running back LeGarrette Blount performed pretty much as expected, relying on one long run of 47 yards to bolster his stat line which otherwise included eight carries for 17 yards.
My receiver projections went out the window once Dobson got hurt, and while I correctly projected Edelman to lead the team in receptions, he was much more of a vertical threat than I anticipated, totaling 118 yards on seven catches. For what it’s worth, I did project rookie Josh Boyce’s first NFL catch.
The other projection of note was tight end Zach Sudfeld, who I projected for a pair of catches. Not only did he fail to record a reception, he botched an onside kick to give Atlanta life late in the game and was waived this week.
Now, on to the projections!
All statistics courtesy of NFL.com