New England Patriots Links 8/20/09 - Patriots vs. Bengals Tonight

Pats DE Mike Wright (99), DE Jarvis Green (97) and LB Adalius Thomas (96) laid atop Bengals QB Carson Palmer after a sack in the first quarter. Pats beat the Bengals 34-13 in their last meeting 10/01/07.

Mike Reiss offers five things to look for in tonight's Bengals-Patriots game.

Derrick Burgess and the pass rush. When the Patriots traded for the veteran, the primary purpose was to improve their pass rush. Burgess has almost exclusively lined up in a three-point stance across from the right tackle, and his one-on-one matchup against borderline Cincinnati starter Anthony Collins will provide a good barometer of pass-rush improvement. With the Bengals likely to start J.T. O’Sullivan at quarterback and work with a revamped line, edge rushers Burgess, Tully Banta-Cain & Co. should have opportunities to generate a solid rush.

Christopher Price presents his five things to watch for and evaluate during the game.

Joey GallowayAfter an inauspicious debut in the preseason opener (zero catches on two balls thrown in his direction), the veteran wide receiver was targeted an awful lot this week in camp, getting plenty of reps with the No. 1 offense and appearing to have several balls thrown in his direction.

Look for him to have an increased role Thursday night. We say that for several reasons, not the least of which was the sequence  described here, where he worked in an individual setting with Brady, Wes Welker and Randy Moss for an extended stretch, trying to get a handle on timing patterns involving the deep ball. (It will be interesting to see if that extra work pays off this week -- watch to see how many times Galloway is a primary receiver when New England does try and go deep.)

Ian Rapoport has five things to watch for during the New England-Cincinnati matchup.

Will Tom Brady finally get the hit he craves? Brady made his triumphant return last week from major knee reconstruction, going 10-for-15 for 100 yards and two touchdown passes, and answering many questions in the process. Not all questions, though. He hasn’t been hit yet. The quarterback joked that he wanted someone to "blast me," to which left tackle Matt Light said, "Oh no, he doesn’t." The ability to withstand a shot to that knee is key.

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If you can get past the nagging facts in this story of a 40-year-old, self-absorbed, surgically repaired, still-injured, flip-flopping quarterback who shunned training camp and manipulated his way onto the roster of the rival of the team that made him a record-breaking legend, you must come to this realization:

Brett Favre signing with the Minnesota Vikings ranks among most stunning stories in the history of sport.

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