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NFL New England Patriots

5 Key Players For New England Patriots In Week 5

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5 Key Players for New England Patriots In Week 5

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday's matchup between the New England Patriots and the Cincinnati Bengals represents two teams that are the opposite of what most fans would expect.

The banged up, mostly talent-less Patriots are 4-0 coming off of a statement win at the Atlanta Falcons. Somehow, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been able to engineer a well-oiled offense in the last two weeks. He is showing excellent chemistry with his young wide receivers.

Then there's the New England defense. Let's forget about yards per game, rankings, etc. This defense has been good. It shut down the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers like it was supposed to. Then Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and the explosive Atlanta offense was impressively contained.

Now we move on to the 2-2 Bengals. On offense, Bengals quarterbackAndy Dalton has been rather inconsistent. He's turning the ball over and struggling to throw it down the field. Wide receiver A.J. Green is an elite talent, though he has been mostly contained since Week 1. There are still some explosive rookie weapons on this team though. Running back Giovani Bernard and tight end Tyler Eifert are not to be taken lightly.

The Cincinnati defense is loaded on the defensive line. Defensive ends Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap form one of the best pass-rushing duos in the NFL. As if that were not enough, defensive tackle Geno Atkins is arguably the best player at his position.

So Brady and company will have their work cut out for them. With that in mind, who must step up for the Patriots to win?

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5. Jerod Mayo, LB

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Mayo will be tasked with covering the Cincinnati tight ends and running backs. He must make sure that the tight ends Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham don't get up the seam nor does Giovani Bernard get in the open field.

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4. Nate Solder, LT

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Solder has a tough matchup against Michael Johnson, who is a well-rounded defensive end. What is most important is that Solder keeps Brady clean in pass protection.

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3. Logan Mankins, LG

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Mankins might even have a tougher time than his O-line mate Solder. That's because Mankins has the primary task of trying to shut down Geno Atkins, who is the premiere defensive tackle in the league.

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2. Aqib Talib, CB

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Talib has been crucial to the Patriots' success so far this season. Now he must continue to work against a top-tier wide receiver in A.J. Green. Green is the best player on the Cincinnati offense, so taking him out would go a long way toward shutting the unit down.

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1. Tom Brady, QB

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

How can it not be Brady? He's the main reason that this offense is even functioning. Well now Brady must work his magic again. His quick release will be vital in this game, as he has to avoid pressure from the vaunted Cincinnati defensive front.