FOXBORO — The Patriots are in desperate need of a win after suffering an incredibly embarrassing self-inflicted defeat in Las Vegas. They’d love to deliver a victory to New England on Christmas Eve, but that may be a wish that not even Kris Kringle could grant.
Because after the team’s dispiriting loss to the Raiders, the Patriots now welcome the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals to Gillette Stadium. This is no longer an “On To Cincinnati” situation where a New England victory is essentially assured. The Bengals have shaken off their Super Bowl hangover and are back near the top of the conference, winners of eight of their last nine games. Cincinnati now sits at 10-4 on the year and is looking to keep pace with the 11-3 Bills and Chiefs.
The Patriots, now 7-7, are just fighting to keep their season interesting. New England fell out of the playoff picture with Sunday night’s loss, and need wins and some help the rest of the way if there is any hope for postseason football.
There aren’t many fun facts surrounding the Patriots these days, but take solace in knowing the team has never lost back-to-back games on failed lateral attempts. So they’ve got that going for them this Christmas season.
Here’s everything you need to know about New England’s Week 16 matchup against Cincinnati.
Week 16 Notes
- Sunday will be the 27th meeting between the Patriots and the Bengals since they started playing each other in 1968. New England owns a 17-9 edge in the series, and the Pats have won eight of the last 10 meetings.
- The Patriots are 10-2 against the Bengals at home, including a perfect 4-0 at Gillette Stadium. The Bengals are one of 11 opponents that the Patriots are undefeated against at Gillette since the stadium opened in 2002.
- The Patriots won the first meeting between the two franchises in 1968, winning 33-14 at Fenway Park.
- Cincinnati is averaging 362.1 yards of total offense per game, which is the 10th-most in the NFL. The Patriots rank 25th with 319.5 yards of total offense per game.
- The Bengals are tied for the fifth-highest scoring offense, averaging 26.4 points per game. The Patriots offense is averaging 21.4 points, which ranks 17th in the NFL.
- The New England defense is allowing an average of 312.3 yards per game, which is the sixth-best mark in the NFL. The Cincinnati defense ranks 16th at 335.7 yards allowed per game.
- Both teams tout a Top 10 run defense. The Bengals are allowing 109.6 rushing yards per game, which ranks eighth-best in the NFL. They’re just a few ticks better than the Patriots’ defense, which ranks ninth at 110.3 rushing yards allowed per game.
- If Mac Jones is going to have a good game before the end of the season, Saturday is the day to do it. The Cincinnati passing defense ranks 20th in the NFL, allowing an average of 226.1 yards per game.
- The Patriots’ defense scored its fifth touchdown of the season on Sunday, which is tied for the most in the league with the Arizona Cardinals. It’s also one off the franchise record of six defensive scores in a season, which the Patriots did in both 2003 and 2007.
- New England has scored a defensive touchdown in back-to-back weeks. The team has not gone three straight games with a defensive score since late in the 2004 season.
- The Bengals have won six straight and eight of their last nine games.
- Josh Uche has 10.5 sacks on the season — all of which have come over the last seven weeks.
- Matthew Judon is second in the NFL with 14.5 sacks (trailing San Francisco’s Nick Bosa and his 15.5 sacks) and is on pace to finish the season with 18 sacks. New England’s franchise record for sacks in a season is 18.5, which Andre Tippett set in 1984.
- Rhamondre Stevenson enters the week with 60 receptions and 381 receiving yards, both of which rank third among NFL running backs. Stevenson is on pace for 72 receptions, which would be the third-highest total for a New England running back.
- Kyle Dugger’s 16-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Raiders was his second touchdown of the season. If he scores another over the next three weeks, Dugger will be the first Patriots player with three defensive touchdowns in a season since 1970.
- Rookie Marcus Jones leads the NFL with 824 total return yards (326 punt return yards and 498 kickoff return yards). He is second in the NFL with a 13.6-yard punt return average and third with a 24.9-yard kickoff return average.
- Nick Folk leads the NFL with 30 field goals and is one of six players with at least five seasons of at least 30 field goals. The veteran kicker is on pace to match his new career-high of 36 made field goals, which Folk set last season.
- Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow has 31 touchdown passes this season, which is the second-most in the NFL behind only Patrick Mahomes and his 35 touchdown passes.
- Burrow has been sacked 37 times this season, which is tied for the sixth-most in the NFL.
- Bengals center Ted Karras was originally drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He won two Super Bowls over his two stints with New England.
- Tight end Devin Asiasi, whom the Patriots drafted in the third round in 2020, was claimed off waivers by the Bengals in August. He has played 21 percent of Cincinnati’s offensive snaps, but has no catches on two targets this season.
Tune in to Patriots-Bengals on WBZ-TV — the television home of the New England Patriots. Coverage begins Wednesday night at 9:30 p.m. on TV38 with Patriots 1st Down, and continues Friday night on WBZ-TV at 7 p.m. with Patriots All Access. Coverage kicks off Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. with Patriots GameDay, the Pats host the Bengals at 1 p.m., and after the game stay tuned for Patriots 5th Quarter — all on WBZ-TV!
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