New England Patriots

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 15: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and Head coach Zac Taylor of the Cincinnati Bengals shake hands following the game at Paul Brown Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The NFL is still investigating the Patriots and whether there’s any connection between the football operation and an incident with a video crew and the Cincinnati Bengals. But the latest details don’t sound good for anyone hoping the league would nab the Pats again.

Although the Patriots have already admitted that a video crew inappropriately recorded the Bengals’ sideline last month, it appears that the punishment will not be any more severe than recent game day violations by other NFL teams. According to Mark Maske of the Washington Post, the NFL has yet to discover any connections between Bill Belichick or the Patriots’ football staff and the videotaping incident in question.

The NFL’s investigation is expected to be wrapped up in a relatively timely manner, as soon as this week. The video crew did get caught right in the Browns’ press box recording the Bengals’ sideline as Cincinnati took on Cleveland in Week 14, so it’s at the very least an unfortunate slip-up for them to violate NFL rules regarding video footage of opposing teams. The Patriots maintained that the video crew was filming a “Do Your Job” documentary short about one of their advance scouts, whose job includes studying the next week’s opponent up-close.

Nov 24, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the side line during the first half of an NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 24, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the side line during the first half against the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

It’s terrible news for the (probably) millions of NFL fans hoping that the league would uncover something more nefarious and have justification to hit Belichick and the Patriots with heavier penalties than what’s expected. That looks unlikely at this point. Instead, the likelihood is that the team receives a fine and possibly a loss or reduction of a mid-to-low draft pick. One recent example is the Atlanta Falcons, who got fined $350,000 and lost a 2016 fifth-round pick after the NFL caught them pumping artificial crowd noise into their stadium.

That probably won’t stop some crusaders from campaigning for another pound of flesh from Foxboro. But in this case the Patriots have admitted to the video crew’s wrongdoing and cooperated with the NFL. This investigation doesn’t appear to be the start of anything worse than how it looks right now.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.