The New England Patriots will open their 2010 season with a home game against the Cincinnati Bengals this afternoon, at 1:00 PM Eastern Time. After a long offseason and training camp that saw the release of Adalius Thomas, the injuries to Leigh Bodden and Ty Warren, the holdout of Logan Mankins, I'm sure the Patriots are just glad to get back on the field.
Key Injuries - Patriots
Laurence Maroney, RB, Questionable
Nick Kaczur, OL, Out
Terrence Wheatley, CB, Out
Julian Edelman, WR, Questionable
Key Injuries - Bengals
Brian Leonard, RB, Questionable
Andre Caldwell, WR, Questionable
Players to Watch - Patriots
Tom Brady, QB: Tom Brady had one heck of a week, from a scary car crash, to signing a contract to make him the highest paid player in NFL history. Considering how well Brady played in the preseason, it will be important for him to get off to a great start today.
Jermaine Cunningham, OLB: The rookie outside linebacker missed the entire preseason with an ankle injury, but reportedly will be ready to go today. Before he got hurt, he was starting to work his way into the starting lineup. With the Patriots in desperate need of pass rush help, we'll see if Cunningham can pick up where he left off last week.
Devin McCourty, CB: In his first NFL game, McCourty will be matching up against Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. Enough said.
Players to Watch - Bengals
Carson Palmer, QB: While Palmer was at one point considered an elite NFL quarterback, his stock has dropped as of late. However, with the Patriots young in the secondary, the reloaded receiving corps of the Bengals (Jermaine Gresham and Terrell Owens), and with a lot of hard offseason work, this could be Palmer's chance to re-work his way back to the top of the NFL's ring of elite quarterbacks.
Leon Hall/Jonathan Joseph, CB's: While the Patriots certainly will try to establish the run, there's no question that they will try the air. And while the Bengals may have one of the best cornerbacks in the league in Hall and Joseph (and Pacman Jones is also a great 3rd), and they will be tested by the likes of Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Brandon Tate.
Greg's Prediction: Patriots 27 Bengals 17
I feel that the game is going to be close, but I feel that the Patriots, with the momentum and emotion of playing at home, will have the edge. Everyone seems to be making a big deal about the Bengals offense and their targets. But here is how they match up: Carson Palmer/Chad Ochocinco/Terrell Owens vs. Tom Brady/Randy Moss/Wes Welker. Not to down the Bengals passing attack, but the Patriots' is clearly superior. Hopefully, the Pats' young defense can also step up and surprise some people.