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Open Thread: New England Patriots @ Cincinnati Bengals, Week 4

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The defense is going to play its best tonight as the New England Patriots take on the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football.

There's no doubt ESPN was hoping both of these teams would be completely healthy heading into this one, but such is not the case. Both teams may be missing their starting running backs. Cincinnati's Rudi Johnson is definitely out, and there is rampant speculation that starting running back Laurence Maroney will sit out tonight. He was listed on New England's injury report as 'questionable' with a groin injury.

But that's not what ESPN wants. They want an aerial show, and it's likely these teams will oblige. Cincinnati's problem is that most of their linebackers are injured, and that will make life difficult for the Bengals. Cincy's best chance to win will be to simply outscore New England, and they are certainly capable. But New England is just as capable of slowing down if not shutting down very powerful offenses.

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New England Patriots @ Cincinnati Bengals
Paul Brown Stadium, Oct. 1, 8:30 p.m.

Tonight's head official is Jerome Boger. Boger became an NFL official in 2004, starting as a line judge. He was promoted just 2 years later at the start of the 2006 season. This will be his first Patriots game as head referee.

We'll have updates throughout the game. Feel free to join in the conversation with posts in the comments section.

Make sure you also drop by SB Nation's Cincinnati Bengals blog, Cincy Jungle.

Enjoy the game, and Go PATRIOTS!!

Update [2007-10-1 20:18:47 by tommasse]::
Temperature is 71 degrees under clear skies. All rain in the area is currently far to the north. Winds are below 10 mph.

The Patriots inactives are:
RB Laurence Maroney
WR Kelley Washington
G Stephen Neal
OT/TE Ryan O'Callaghan
DL Santonio Thomas
DL Kareem Brown
OLB Chad Brown
QB Matt Gutierrez (3rd QB)

The Patriots have used O'Callaghan in their "jumbo" offensive set with the tackle lining up eligible at a tight end position. New England had better than average success on most of those plays. We'll see if they try to use that set with another linemen, but with Neal out, too, it's more likely the Patriots will use multiple tight ends instead.