Yeah, what he said.
Let’s take it around the table and see what the BBS staff thinks of Brady’s first home game, and this big conference showdown with the Bengals on Sunday…
Tom Brady: Over/Under 300 yards passing?
Niko: It seems, yet again, the rest of the NFL will have to wait another year (or five) for his demise. OVER. This Bengals secondary is reeling, and it won’t get any better Sunday.
Pete: OVER. The Patriots have so many damn weapons it isn't even funny. Gronkowski, Bennett, Edelman, Amendola, Hogan; need I go on? It does not even matter who the Pats play anymore. No one can stop this offense.
Jordan: I'm still waiting for this cliff to come around that TB12 is supposed to fall off of. Based on the Cleveland game, I do not imagine that is this year. With all of his weapons healthy, Brady shouldn't have any issues going OVER 300 yards this week.
LeGarrette Blount: Over/Under 67 yards rushing?
Niko: Unfortunately for Blount, he’s the only guy on the roster that Brady’s return doesn’t help statistically. Instead of using the run to set up the pass like we saw with Brissett under center, we’ll see the opposite moving forward. Just barely UNDER.
Pete: UNDER. Blount was the beneficiary of Tom Brady's absence, but things have all ready changed drastically. Unless the Patriots are up by three touchdowns, Blount is going to have a tough time getting the ball 25 times a game.
Jordan: UNDER. I can't see LB29 having enough carries to gain a rhythm and be able to bang out some gutsy runs. With Brady back, the Pats will most certainly run less (except against the Colts).
James White: Over/Under 44.5 yards from scrimmage?
Niko: My man James hit this mark big last week, and I think he’ll do it again. He seems to be improving every week and is miles ahead of where he was at this point last season. Cincy’s linebackers (Maualuga and Burfict) aren’t exactly known for their coverage skills either…Also, don’t expect Dion to come right in and for White to disappear, they’re going to be an extremely explosive duo in a few weeks. OVER.
Pete: I really like what I saw from James White last week. He is the perfect check down option for Tom Brady; he doesn't have explosive speed or absurd shiftiness, but White will be pretty solid for what the Patriots are looking from him. OVER.
Jordan: I have been waiting patiently for White to have a big game. He looked solid last week and can imagine he'd only get better as he and Brady get re-acclimated to each other. I'll say OVER here.
Julian Edelman: Over/Under 7.5 receptions, 72 yards receiving?
Niko: Surprisingly, Edelman had a very inefficient game against the Browns: 5 catches on 10 targets for 35 yards and a drop. I expect TB and JE to get on the same page and get some magic going this weekend. Cincy doesn’t have a great matchup for him in the slot. OVER on both.
Pete: At times, Edelman just didn't look right on Sunday. Whether it is his foot acting up or some chemistry issues with TB12 in his first game back, I expect things to change this week. OVER on both.
Jordan: My only guess for the JE struggles last week is he maybe was over-amped up for the return of the GOAT. I expect a far more mechanical game for Edelman as Brady returns home. OVER on both.
Rob Gronkowski: Over/Under 4.5 receptions, 75 yards receiving?
Niko: Well, I guess you could say Gronk is back. Coming off 5 catches, 109 yards and a setback free hammy, I see #87 hitting these marks again on Sunday. OVER on both.
Pete: Gronk missed practice on Friday, but he did say on Thursday that he is close to full strength. I will say OVER on receptions, but UNDER on yards. Gronk needs another week or two before he is full-go.
Jordan: Gronk looked like Gronk last week, which was AWESOME to see. This week, I expect Gronk to be even more of a factor at Gillette. I see him getting more targets, leading to OVER on receptions, but I see Marty Bennett making the bulk of the big plays. UNDER on yards.
Martellus Bennett: Over/Under 4.5 receptions, 55 yards receiving?
Niko: I’m going to roll with the UNDER on catches, but OVER on yards here for Bennett. This tight end combo is more dangerous than the one a few years back. Why? Bennett is a whale of a blocker, AH was a glorified wide receiver.
Pete: OVER on both. I love what I have seen from Martellus Bennett so far in his short Patriots career. While it remains to be seen if he will be a long-term fit here, Bennett is performing like a man amongst boys in his contract year. OVER.
Jordan: OVER on both, Marty is fitting in so nicely so far. And to think, a lot of people were worried after Week One, thinking the hoodie would misuse him. Martysaurus goes off again.
Andy Dalton: Over/Under 285 yards passing?
Niko: UNDER. It’s Andy Dalton.
Pete: The Patriots need to put pressure on Andy Dalton and let the Red Rifle be the Red Rifle. Make him uncomfortable in the pocket and he will fold like a cheap suit. I think we see a lot of Malcom Brown, Alan Branch, Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard in this game. UNDER.
Jordan: Dalton will definitely have a few big throws downfield, but I ultimately expect struggles for the Red Rifle. UNDER.
Jeremy Hill: Over/Under 55.5 yards rushing?
Niko: After leaving the game with an arm injury last weekend and not returning; expect Hill to cede even more touches than usual to the shiftier Bernard. UNDER.
Pete: UNDER. Like Niko mentioned, Jeremy Hill was knocked out of the game last week and was never able to return. I don't see an injured running back being the reason this team loses.
Jordan: Like the guys said above, Hill is banged up. He won't be much of a factor, UNDER.
Giovani Bernard: Over/Under 75 yards from scrimmage?
Niko: Of the two backs, Gio is your guy Sunday. He’ll break free for some short passes out of the backfield, and have plenty of opportunities with the Bengals having to (likely) abandon the power run early. OVER.
Pete: Giovani Bernard is a much more versatile back than Jeremy Hill. Bernard is able to catch passes out of the backfield, as well as run the rock. With Hill not at 100% expect to see a lot out of Bernard. However, I just don't think Dalton is going to check down to a running back every other snap. UNDER.
Jordan: I regret drafting Little Gio in both my fantasy leagues. He's been pathetic, and I don't expect him to turn it around this week. UNDER.
AJ Green: Over/Under 6.5 receptions, 89 yards receiving?
Niko: Going to roll with the UNDER here on both. He’s the key guy. This is who the Pats are game planning for.
Pete: Make no mistake about it, AJ Green is one of the more talented receivers in the National Football League. That being said, I don't think Green has the same level of compete as a guy like Dez Bryant. Green is known to disappear when the lights shine the brightest, and I expect them to be pretty damn bright on Sunday in Foxboro. UNDER on both.
Jordan: OVER. It's AJ Green, guys.
Brandon LaFell: Over/Under 4.5 receptions, 55 yards receiving?
Niko: Like I mentioned above, I expect Belichick/Patricia to use every resource they have to stop Green. Old friend LaFell will be the beneficiary of that. OVER on both of these in his return to Foxboro.
Pete: UNDER. Give me a break.
Jordan: LOL, UNDER.
Niko: AJ Green vs. Logan Ryan/Malcolm Butler. It’s very simple, AJ Green is the key to the Bengals’ offense. If the Patriots are able to keep him at bay, or even take him away entirely, this game could get ugly quick. If Green has his way with what I expect to be a mix of Ryan/Butler (with McCourty over the top) we could see a shootout.
Pete: The Patriots' D-Line vs. Andy Dalton. If the Patriots are able to put a lot of pressure on Andy Dalton, then they are in good shape. Make Andy Dalton be Andy Dalton.
Jordan: I love to play the mental game with these key matchups, and it's going to be more of the same this week. Tom Brady's first game back at Gillette, crowd is going to be LIT. Pats need to harness all of the energy and refrain from taking dumb penalties. I see this being a rather easy game.
Niko: Bengals’ starting right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi has struggled badly this season. In fact, Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the 64th tackle out of 77 eligible players. Ouch. Bad news for Andy Dalton. That being said, that’s great news for Patriots left end Chris Long, who should be disruptive on Sunday. I’ll roll with a sack and a forced fumble for the 31 year old.
Pete: This is going to be a big day for the Patriots' defense. They have not gotten the definition that they deserve because of the level of competition. The Bengals are considered a top team in the AFC, but they still have Andy Dalton as their QB. I say the Patriots force three turnovers in Foxboro.
Jordan: This bold prediction is going to be left up for you guys' interpretation; but I say Brandon LaFell winds up being the leading receiver for the Bengals on Sunday. Whether that be because the Patriots defense just does a phenomenal job shutting down AJ Green, or this game is a surprise shootout, Brandon LaFell shows his old club he can still play.
Game Total: Over/Under 47.5?
Niko: OVER. Brady and co. are good for 30+ themselves every week moving forward. Additionally, Bengals TE Tyler Eifert being ruled out for Sunday's matchup eliminates a huge component of the passing game for Cincinnati.
Pete: OVER. Patriots could threaten for 40 on their own.
Jordan: I'll go barely UNDER. The Patriots offense is good for 30+ a week, but I don't think the Bengals are going to be able to do much against the Pats this week.
Final Prediction (Patriots -6.5):
Niko: Strip both teams down to their absolute core; you’re left with Marvin Lewis/Andy Dalton and Bill Belichick/Tom Brady. That should tell you all you need to know. Pats 35-20.
Pete: 38-17 Patriots. The Patriots are simply too talented on both sides of the ball. Another mismatch.
Jordan: 31-14 Patriots. Like Pete said, the Patriots are just TOO good for Cincy. Easy road to a 5-1 start.