What it means: The Patriots asserted themselves as a team to be reckoned with after a summer that generated a lot of uncertainty, especially on defense. The game was a potential shootout given the Patriots' pass-rush problems and inexperience at cornerback. The Bengals made the score interesting with a second-half surge, but the Patriots comfortably led 24-3 at halftime.
Big revelation: Wes Welker's surgically repaired knee didn't prevent him from having a big day. He caught eight passes for 64 yards and two touchdowns. He had only four touchdowns on 123 receptions last year. That's the kind of afternoon that will help him get over the psychological part of his recovery.
Trending: Stephen Gostkowski missed field goals from 47 yards and 56 yards in the second quarter. The misses didn't hurt, and both attempts were long. But how he rebounds is something to keep an eye on.
What's next: The Patriots will play the New York Jets on Sunday at the new Meadowlands stadium.