With Terrell Owens in Mix, Patriots’ Week 1 Matchup With Bengals Just Got Interesting


With Terrell Owens in Mix, Patriots' Week 1 Matchup With Bengals Just Got Interesting The Patriots' season opener with the Bengals on Sept. 12 was an exciting date on the calendar from the day it was announced, but the signing of Terrell Owens just made it an event.

For the second straight season, the Pats will be game-planning around T.O. in Week 1 at Gillette Stadium, but this time around, it's a safe bet he'll be more of a threat. Last year, in his Bills debut, Owens could barely get quarterback Trent Edwards' attention, finishing the night with just two catches but an impressive 47 yards.

Of course, even without T.O., there would have been plenty to be excited about. The Tom BradyCarson Palmer matchup is still a premiere meeting of quarterbacks, the Chad Ochocinco sideshow is usually worth watching (including his successful big to be a kicker last year in a preseason game in New England) and, most importantly, it falls on arguably the greatest day of the year — the first Sunday of NFL action.

While 61 percent of NESN.com readers said earlier in July that they'd like to see T.O. join the Patriots, they'll have to settle for simply watching him in the season opener.

With Owens reportedly agreeing to a deal two days before the Bengals open camp, the veteran receiver should be caught up on the playbook by the time the season begins. Provided Ochocinco isn't too distracted by his ridiculous reality show or Twitter account, the two will be at the center of a dangerous passing attack.

Ochocinco has amassed more than 1,000 receiving yards in all but two of his NFL seasons — his rookie year in 2001 and an injury-riddled, mostly Palmer-less 2008. Owens' numbers dropped drastically last season, largely due to the unimpressive quarterback situation in Buffalo, but he showed on several home-run plays that he's still a deep threat worthy of a defense's attention.

Still, the Patriots won't be too worried. In four career regular-season games against the Patriots, Owens' teams are 0-4. He averages just 3.25 catches, 48.25 yards and .5 touchdowns per game against New England. He was, however, exceptional when he faced the Patriots as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX, hauling in nine passes for 122 yards on a barely healed broken leg. Had Donovan McNabb continued to find Owens, the Patriots' dynasty may never have been.

There will, obviously, be much less at stake when Owens lines up against the Patriots in September. Last year, when Brady led the Pats to an incredible comeback (aided heavily by the boneheadedness of Leodis McKelvin), football fans were treated to some serious fourth-quarter drama in Week 1. Thanks to Cincinnati's addition of Terrell Owens, they won't have to wait so long.

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