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Week 1 Game Recap: Cincinnati Bengals 24, New England Patriots 38


Cincinnati Bengals

QB Carson Palmer, Pass: 34 - 50 - 345 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 9 - 0

Fantasy owners of Carson Palmer were thrilled with his 345 yards and 2 touchdowns. The additions of Terrell Owens, Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham paid off handsomely, as Palmer spread the ball around and put up bigtime passing numbers in week 1. The problem though, is in the mistakes. On the 2nd drive, Palmer overthrew Coats on 3rd down to end a drive. In the 2nd quarter, Palmer and Gresham weren't on the same page, and Palmer threw a Pick 6 right to Gary Guyton. Combine these two errors with a Cedric Benson fumble, and you have 3 mistakes that directly led to a 31-3 deficit when Palmer took the field in the 3rd quarter. In a showdown against Tom Brady you just can't make those mistakes. But Palmer owners still have a lot to look forward to in 2010. Instead of crumbling, the Bengals fought hard in the 2nd half, and while Palmer made good use of his new weapons, he didn't forget about Ocho Cinco, throwing him 12 passes for 159 yards. The one worry I have is that in the first half, when it was still a game, the offense still seemed very conservative. In the opening drives, they relied heavily on Cedric Benson and other than one lob to Owens, the passes were all very short. This type of offense scares no one. When forced to open it up due to the score, Palmer was able to spread the ball around and make things happen. Whether the offensive coordinator, Bob Bratkowski, will allow for this type of passing when the games are close, is the question fantasy owners will have to pay close attention to in the upcoming weeks.

RB Cedric Benson, Rush: 15 - 43 - 1, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (2 targets)

Benson had a tough day in week 1. When the game was close, Benson had no room and was completely ineffective in the opening quarter, as the surprising New England defense bottled him up. Then he gave up a crucial fumble that gave the ball back to the Patriots and put the Bengals in an even bigger hole. However, as the game went on, and the Bengals opened it up, Benson had more running lanes and was able to squeeze out 43 yards and a TD. What kind of a workload will Benson get moving forward? That's the question of the day for Benson, and for this offense as a whole. A more explosive offense could allow Benson to exceed the 10 TD's he had in 2009. However, a heavier reliance on the passing game and the emergence of Bernard Scott could keep Cedric Benson from being a number 1 RB in 2010. Benson will have to step it up if he wants to continue to be a focal point for the Bengals offense.

RB Bernard Scott, Rush: 6 - 35 - 0, Rec: 3 - 15 - 0 (4 targets)

After all the talk about Scott in the pre-season, he was kept on the bench until the 3rd quarter. But when he did enter the game, he made a case for playing time as he showed his quickness and speed that provides an added dimension for the Bengals offense. It would be a crime for the Bengals to not make Scott a regular part of the game-plan. He showed off his hands with a couple grabs out of the backfield, and though he lacks Chris Johnson's elite speed, has a close resemblance to CJ in his running style, as he looks like he can take it to the house on any given play. If Scott hits a few long runs, he could theoretically push the Cincy running game right into a full-blown RBBC, which would be a nightmare for Benson owners.

WR Chad Ochocinco, Rec: 12 - 159 - 1 (13 targets)

For some reason, many owners expected Chad Ocho Cinco to fade into the night as the "Robin" to TO's "Batman". But Ocho Cinco showed in the 2nd half of this game that he is still the number 1 WR on the Bengals. When Palmer tried to bring the team back from a huge deficit, he began heavily relying on his favorite target, hitting him 12 times. Ocho Cinco is an incredible route runner and showcased his amazing hands in the 2nd half with some very impressive catches. His demise has been greatly exaggerated, and he also no doubt pleased the coaching staff, when after his touchdown, he ran back to the bench. Is the realization that a TD in a blowout was no place for a celebration a sign of a "more mature" Chad? There are a number of weapons on this team, but for owners that secured Ocho Cinco as their number 2 or even number 3 wideout, they are feeling very happy right now, as Ocho Cinco is still a legitimate number 1.

WR Terrell Owens, Rec: 7 - 53 - 0 (13 targets)

Owens got two opportunites to make big plays on Sunday. Early on the first drive, Palmer threw a lob to TO that he was unable to come down with. Then the rookie Devin McCourty got perfect inside position on Owens later in the game and kept him from even making a play on a long pass into the endzone. Owens was still a big part of the offense, as he provides a reliable target for Palmer on the other side of Chad. Owens will be a reliable possession receiver for Palmer, but the question of whether Owens can still go get the jump balls and be a deep threat has not been resolved. While Ocho Cinco hasn't shown signs of aging yet, Owens is 36 and will turn 37 this season. He is also coming off of a poor year in Buffalo. There is no doubt that he is going to be heavily involved in the gameplan, but whether he can be elite or not will depend on his ability to catch the long ball, something he was unable to do on two opportunites against the Patriots.

WR Jordan Shipley, Rec: 5 - 82 - 0 (7 targets)

Shipley's numbers are a little inflated due to his reception of a "hail mary" at the end of the first half. Still that catch, along with another fantastic 11 yard snag showcased Shipley's hands. Like Scott, Shipley got little use in the first half, outside of that hail mary. But like Scott, he made a plea for playing time with 4 second half receptions. As a number 3 receiver in this offense, Shipley has the physical tools to be a big tool for Palmer. While Shipley draws comparisons to Welker by some, he has the tools to be an outside receiver too. I don't know that Shipley will be a consistent player in 2010, but if you are in a dynasty league, he could end up being one of the best and most reliable receivers in the 2010 draft class. Stashing him on your bench could pay big dividends, as TO is aging and has a limited future in Cincinnati.

TE Jermaine Gresham, Rec: 6 - 25 - 1 (10 targets)

For the first time since he's been a Bengal, Carson Palmer has a true tight end. Gresham snagged a touchdown in the back of the end zone and made it look downright easy. Then Palmer went to him again in the red-zone, and (in my opinion) Gresham stretched out and scored a TD. However, it was ruled down by contact. Either way he showed impressive athleticism. He is a rookie though, and he allowed Gary Guyton to cut in front of him on a very simple route, and this miscommunication led to a Guyton interception which was returned for a TD. The fault has to be shared between Palmer and Gresham on this play. But Gresham owners have to be excited. There is no reason why this guy won't be one of the top tight ends in the game in a relatively short amount of time. He has the perfect body for a tight end, and is going to be a bigtime redzone target for Palmer.


New England Patriots

QB Tom Brady, Pass: 25 - 35 - 258 - 3 TD / 0 INT

With all the attention that the Jets have received this off-season, the Patriots have assembled an exciting group of additions to this Patriots offense. On Sunday, Brady used them all to his advantage, carving up the Bengals with precision. Brady completed 70 percent of his passes, and looked completely in control of his offense. Before the Bengals had a chance to blink, Brady had the Patriots out to a 17-0 lead. And as good as it was, the first half could have even been better. On two separate drives, the usually sure-handed Kevin Faulk dropped key 3rd down swing passes inside Bengals territory, both leading to Gostkowski field goals, only one of which was made. Brady also was kept off the field for a long portion of the game by TD's by the Pats defense and a kickoff return by Tate. However, Brady was at his best on a drive that started right at the end of the 3rd quarter. After the Bengals scored and pulled within 14, the Patriots offense took the field, took 7+ minutes off the clock and ended in a TD when Brady hit his new giant tight end, Rob Gronkowski for a 1 yard touchdown. This looks like a season where Brady can attack the record books again. He has two new weapons at tight end, what looks like a reliable number 3 WR in Brandon Tate, and of course, Moss and Welker. The line gave Brady plenty of time in this one, and he shredded the highly touted secondary of the Bengals for 3 td's with absolutely no difficulties. If you can find an owner willing to part with Brady, do it now, because he could easily lead the league in passing in 2010.

RB Fred Taylor, Rush: 14 - 71 - 0, Rec: 2 - 6 - 0 (2 targets)

If you didn't know who was running the ball for the Patriots on Sunday, you would have never known that the runner was 34 years old! So much for runners slowing down at 30! Taylor looked extremely quick and agile, and made great use of the nice running lanes he received from playing in a pass-first offense. It's very difficult to rely on any Patriot running back as a primary starter. However, if Taylor stays healthy, (which is no small task for a 34 year old) there is no reason to think he won't continue to receive 15 carries a game throughout the season. He was a major part of the gameplan against the Bengals, and if the Patriots keep moving the ball this effectively, Taylor will be milking the clock often in 2010 for New England.

RB Kevin Faulk, Rush: 3 - 23 - 0, Rec: 4 - 47 - 0 (6 targets)

Kevin Faulk was heavily involved in the gameplan against the Bengals, but he had an up-and-down day against Cincy. On the Pats 2nd drive, Faulk dropped an outlet pass that would have been a first down, and possibly a touchdown. Then midway through the 2nd quarter, a Pats drive stalled out when Faulk dropped another Brady strike, though he probably was distracted by the oncoming Bengals defender that leveled him. Despite those two drops, he made a key reception on the Pats 3rd drive, as he made an impressive 21 yard reception, keeping both feet in bounds, and giving the Pats 1st and goal on the 4. With all the weapons on this team, Faulk very well might see his opportunities decrease as the year goes along, but he was a very active part of the gameplan in week 1.

RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Rush: 5 - 22 - 0

With Maroney inactive, Green-Ellis received some rare early season carries on Sunday, getting 5 carries on a very meaningful drive for the Pats. Up 31-17 in the 4th, Green-Ellis received 4 straight carries from the Bengals 19 yard line, and he pounded it down to the 1. With the strange situation involving Maroney, and Taylor's age, Green-Ellis is a guy to keep a close eye on for fantasy owners as the season goes on. He could very well end up being the goalline back for an explosive offense.

WR Wes Welker, Rec: 8 - 64 - 2 (11 targets)

The star of week one for the Patriots, Wes Welker showed he is back, by rewarding his PPR owners with 8 catches, and then thrilling them with 2 touchdowns! The question everyone wants to know is whether Welker is 100%. And honestly, it's hard to say. At times, he doesn't seem to have quite the same amount of speed and agility, but he still is getting the ball and making plays. Whether he's 100% or not, the only thing that keeps Welker from another 100 catch, 1,000 yard season is a setback in his knee. While Moss is the focal point of the defense, Welker is the engine that Brady uses to keep the motor running, over and over. His play in week 1 no doubt thrilled owners who took a chance on him in their drafts.

WR Randy Moss, Rec: 5 - 59 - 0 (8 targets)

Randy Moss truly is the wide receiver that makes the whole offense work for the Patriots. Even on weeks where he never gets a deep ball, his presence demands double-teams and opens up the field for the rest of his teammates. On the very first drive, as the defense focused on Moss, Brady hit the WIDE OPEN Aaron Hernandez for a 45 yard gain. While this doesn't help Moss fantasy owners, it shows the value of this receiver to the passing game of the Patriots. Moss had a solid day, including a nice move in the 2nd quarter where he took a short pass, juked the defender and outran the defense for a 32 yard gain. Moss will get his points this year, and his owners have nothing to fear with Randy.

WR Brandon Tate, Rec: 4 - 36 - 0 (5 targets)

Do the Patriots finally have a third receiver that Brady can use? Last season, Brady had Moss and Welker, and little else, as Tate missed the season with an injury. But if week 1 is any indication, Brandon Tate will give Brady that third option in the receiving corps. On one reception in the 2nd quarter, Tate showed his speed by taking a Brady dump-off pass and racing past the defenders for a 20 yard gain. Then he REALLY showed his speed in the 3rd quarter, by taking the opening kick of the half, hopping past a defender and streaking ahead for 97 yards. I don't foresee Tate becoming a reliable play in 2010, as there are just too many options for Brady, but he will make some big plays for the Pats, and should definitely be rostered in any dynasty leagues that have the roster space available.

TE Rob Gronkowski, Rec: 1 - 1 - 1 (1 targets)

The 6'6" Gronkowski made it look easy at the goalline by snagging a Tom Brady pass for an easy TD to finish off the Bengals, occupying the goal line set role he should have all season.

TE Aaron Hernandez, Rec: 1 - 45 - 0 (2 targets)

Hernandez was wide open due to coverage being rolled to Moss and showed why Brady is going to make defenses pay this year when Moss and Welker get too much attention, as he stormed right through the middle of the field for a long 45 yard reception on the game's opening drive.


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