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How the Patriots and Bengals have changed since their last meeting

Related: Examining the roster ties between Patriots, Bengals ahead of Week 16

New England Patriots vCincinnati Bengals Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The New England Patriots last met with the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 15 back in 2019. The Patriots won this game with a final score of 34-13.

Patriots Changes

The following nine players were on New England’s 53-man roster in 2019 who are still on the active roster in 2022.

RB Damien Harris, WR Jakobi Meyers, DE Deatrich Wise Jr., DL Lawrence Guy Sr., LB Ja’Whaun Bentley, CB Jonathan Jones, S Devin McCourty, LS Joe Cardona, ST Matthew Slater

Offense: The Patriots offense is pretty much completely different coming into this game as no starters from that 2019 game remain. Mac Jones will be the quarterback instead of Tom Brady this time around.

Damien Harris remains with the team, but since he is dealing with an injury it is primarily Rhamondre Stevenson’s backfield. If Harris is forced to miss again, Pierre Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris will get work. This group replaces one of Sony Michel, James White and Rex Burkhead.

The wide receiver room retains Jakobi Meyers, and he is now the team's number one receiver. Nelson Agholor and Tyquan Thornton should see most of the work alongside of him as DeVante Parker has been ruled out with a concussion. Kendrick Bourne will also see reps at receiver, but his playing time has taken a hit this season. They replace the void left by Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu and N’Keal Harry.

The two new tight ends are Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. This is a major upgrade from when Matt LaCosse and Benjamin Watson were the lead tight ends in 2019.

The offensive line is completely different as well. Conor McDermott shifts over to right tackle with Michael Onwenu playing right guard. David Andrews missed the 2019 season due to blood clots in his lungs and will be at center in this one. Rookie Cole Strange will line up at left guard while Trent Brown holds down the left tackle position.

For comparison, the line against the Bengals was made of Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, Ted Karras, Shaq Mason and Marcus Cannon. Only Wynn and Cannon are still with the Patriots, but both are on injured reserve right now.

Defense: The defensive line retains two starters in Deatrich Wise Jr. and Lawrence Guy Sr. They will play alongside Davon Godchaux and Christian Barmore with Daniel Ekuale and Carl Davis mixing in. This is pretty different compared to the Danny Shelton and Adam Butler combo from the previous matchup.

The linebacker room has one holdover with Ja’Whaun Bentley at middle linebacker. Matthew Judon was a Raven at this time in 2020, and he will now be starting on the outside against the Bengals. Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings are new emerging pass rushers for New England. Jahlani Tavai or Raekwon McMillan will see significant work in this one — neither was in New England for the last matchup. Instead, the Patriots relied on the likes of Dont’a Hightower, Elandon Roberts, Chase Winovich and John Simon. Jamie Collins, who is currently on New England’s practice squad, was a starter back in December 2019 as well.

Jonathan Jones is the lone remaining cornerback from three years ago. Rookies Marcus Jones and Jack Jones could see a sizable role in this game with Jalen Mills out again. Myles Bryant will also see some work in the slot. This is quite the change up from 2019, when Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson were the starters.

Devin McCourty is the only returning safety and he will line up alongside Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips and Jabrill Peppers. Back in 2019, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon and Terrence Brooks were McCourty’s primary running mates.

Special Teams: Nick Folk will be the kicker this time around opposed to Stephen Gostkowski. Jake Bailey was the punter in this matchup, and he is currently on injured reserve but may be activated for this game. If he is not available, Michael Palardy will be the punter. Joe Cardona is still the team’s long snapper, but he is a candidate to be moved to injured reserve soon due to his ankle injury. In that case, Tucker Addington would take over.

In terms of pure special teams players, Matthew Slater returns and in this meeting the Patriots will have Brenden Schooler helping the unit. Guys like Raekwon McMillan and DaMarcus Mitchell will also see major roles on this unit.

Coaching: Bill Belichick’s coaching staff has made some changes over the course of three years. Joe Judge is back as an offensive assistant/quarterback's coach; he was special teams and wide receivers coach in 2019. Matt Patricia, Vinnie Sunseri, Troy Brown, and Billy Yates are all different from the staff; Patricia now is calling plays for the Patriots.

The defensive side of the ball has a lot of names returning but in different roles. DeMarcus Covington (defensive line), Jerod Mayo (linebackers), Steve Belichick (linebackers) and Mike Pellegrino (cornerbacks) all return. Brian Belichick has joined the staff as the safeties coach. Cam Achord returns but this times as the special teams coordinator, with Joe Houston coming in as a special team assistant.

Bengals Changes

The following seven players were on Cincinnati’s 53-man roster in 2019 who are still on the active roster in 2022.

RB Joe Mixon, WR Tyler Boyd, WR Stanley Morgan Jr., WR Trenton Irwin, DE Sam Hubbard, LB Germaine Pratt, S Jessie Bates III

Offense: The biggest change to this offense comes at quarterback as Pro Bowler Joe Burrow is now at the reigns. This is a massive upgrade from Andy Dalton in the 2019 battle.

The running back position is pretty much the same with Joe Mixon still the guy. Samaje Perine is also still with the team. He was on the practice squad in 2019, but has blossomed into a valuable asset when Mixon needs a break.

Tyler Boyd is still a starter at receiver for the Bengals, but he has been paired with two of the best pass catchers in the NFL. Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins are a problem for almost every cornerback room. The three together are almost unguardable but they have guys like Trenton Irwin and Stanley Morgan Jr. who have stuck around and can rotate in. The same is not true for the starting wideouts for that 2019 game: John Ross and Alex Erickson have both left Cincinnati.

Cincinnati’s new tight end is Hayden Hurst, but he is questionable with a calf injury. If he cannot go, it will be Mitchell Wilcox and Devin Asiasi who get a majority of the reps. This is totally different 2019 when Tyler Eifert and C.J. Uzomah led the tight end group.

The offensive line has had equally drastic change on this offense: none of the five starters from 2019 are still with the team. Jonah Williams will man left tackle and Cordell Volson will handle the left guard position. Old friend Ted Karras is the starting center for the Bengals. Alex Cappa was brought in to play right guard and La’el Collins will play the left tackle.

Defense: The defensive front of this team still has Sam Hubbard, but he is out this week with a calf injury. The other defensive end, Trey Hendrickson, is expected to play through a broken wrist with a cast on. D.J. Reader and B.J. Hill are the defensive tackles in this front floor. Back in 2019 it was Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Andrew Billings that played up front.

They run a two-linebacker set with Germaine Pratt returning and Logan Wilson as the new young linebacker who is pretty much always on the field. Wilson replaces the role that Nick Vigil played in the most recent matchup.

The cornerbacks are entirely different as Mike Hilton, Eli Apple and Cam Taylor-Britt are the three primary guys. Their play styles are very different from back in 2019, when William Jackson, Darqueze Dennard and B.W. Webb manned the starting spots.

Jessie Bates III is the leader of this defense and is still in at safety. Vonn Bell is his running mate, replacing Shawn Williams in the starting lineup.

Special Teams: This is another part of Cincinnati’s roster that is very different. Sophomore Evan McPherson will be doing the kicking opposed to Reggie Bullock, while Drue Chrisman is the punter in place of Kevin Huber. The long snapper is Cal Adomitis who is replacing Clark Harris (who is currently on injured reserve).

Trent Taylor is the punt returner instead of Alex Erickson and Trayveon Williams is the kick returner over Darius Phillips. Boyd can also man both roles if need be.

Coaching: The 2022 coaching staff is almost the same as it was in 2019. Zac Taylor is the head coach and has been the key to building up this team to the point it is at. His offensive coordinator is still Brian Callahan, who schemes up plays for the high-powered offense.

Lou Anarumo remains at defensive coordinator, and he has brought this unit to a new level as they barely get scored on in the second half. One change happened on special teams, where Colt Anderson is now coordinating in place of Darrin Simmons.