Welcome back to another edition of "Three Up and Three Down", where we review the studs and duds of the most recent Patriots games. The Patriots used a monster second half explosion to take care of the woeful Cincinnati Bengals 34-13. The win puts the Patriots at 11-3, and still in control of the second seed in the AFC. The Pats get back to work Saturday afternoon in a pivotal division showdown with the Buffalo Bills. Before we shift gears to Buffalo, let's take a look at three ups and downs from Cincinnati.
Up: Stephon Gilmore
If you don't think Stephon Gilmore is the best cornerback in the league, then you're sadly mistaken. Gilmore had a huge game for the Patriots yesterday, as he had two interceptions off of Andy Dalton, one of them leading to a pick-six. It was exactly the spark that the Patriots needed as it led to a 21-3 second half. Not only is Gilmore the league's best cornerback, he might even have a chance at Defensive Player of the Year. Signing Gilmore to a big contract looks better and better every single day!
Down: Mohamed Sanu
Mohamed Sanu continues to be a disappointment for the Patriots. He had two receptions yesterday for 13 yards. The wide receiver also dropped another fourth down pass to keep a Patriots drive alive in the first half. Sanu hasn't been what Patriots fans had hoped for when he arrived. He should be a guy that can create separation and catch passes when the Patriots need a lift. That isn't the case right now. If the Patriots want any hope of competing for another Super Bowl, he NEEDS to be better.
Up: N'Keal Harry
After getting hosed out of a touchdown last week, N'Keal Harry found the endzone this week.
It seems like the chemistry is getting better and better between Brady and Harry. Harry was also used to block and on endarounds at other times in the game. The Patriots are realizing that Harry can be a big part of their offense. They just have to use him in the right situations. Harry is a big lift for the Patriots down the stretch, and will need to have another big game come Saturday against the Bills.
Down: Julian Edelman
This was a rare down game for wide receiver Julian Edelman. He finished with two receptions for nine total yards. At least it was a dud game against the Bengals! If this was a playoff game, then I'd be a little bit more furious. Oh well, it happens. But Saturday is going to be a big game for Edelman against an up and coming Buffalo Bills defense.
Up: Matthew Slater
Matthew Slater continues to show why he is a Pro Bowl caliber player. He forced a fumble late in the first half on a punt to set up the Patriots for a go ahead field goal. Slater continues to be the heart and soul of the special teams on the field, and the entire team off of the field. Another great play from Slate!
Down: Tom Brady
Brady finished 15/28 and 128 yards against the BENGALS!!! The Bengals have one of the worst overall defenses in the league. I'm starting to think the elbow is worse than we all originally thought. It was another day of missing receivers, throwing to areas with nobody there, etc. With two games left in the season, Brady needs to think of something different to do and fast.
The second half was big for all of our sanity. Now you have a big test with the Buffalo Bills coming to town. They have a shot at the division title with winning out and the Patriots losing out. Their defense is legit and Josh Allen is improving. But,give me the Patriots at home against a Bills team that lacks offensive firepower. We're on to Buffalo!