Anyone who looked at the Cincinnati Bengals’ schedule in the beginning of the season might have written the Jets off as an easy win. However, the 4-3 New York Jets travel to Paul Brown Stadium Sunday coming off their overtime win over the Patriots on a Nick Folk field goal, and look to be a tough game for the 5-2 Bengals.
A lot of focus in this game will be on the two defenses. Both teams have great run defenses with outstanding defensive linemen up front. The Jets are second in the league in run defense, only giving up a meager average of 77.7 yards per game. They were also able to hold Tom Brady to no touchdowns and an interception last week, something the Bengals defense also did a few weeks earlier this season.
This defensive line will be a tough one to contain, but the Bengals have one of the most consistent offensive lines in the NFL and will be able to keep pressure off of Andy Dalton for the most part.
Speaking of Dalton, it will be tough for him to make this week his third consecutive 300+ yard performance against a solid Jets defense. Jets all-pro cornerback Antonio Cromartie will more than likely be on AJ Green the whole game, but luckily for Dalton he has other weapons like Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu.
Jones has been one of Dalton’s favorite targets in his past two games. Over the course of the season Jones has racked up 16 catches for 247 yards and three touchdowns. Having to cover the likes of Jones, Sanu, and Green is enough to send any defense into a tizzy but the Bengals also have tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert to target. Eifert had his first career touchdown reception last weekend in Detroit and looks better each week he is out on the field.
For the Jets, it looks like Mark Sanchez getting hurt and going out for the season was a blessing. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who has started in his place, has gotten the job done. The Bengals’ defensive line is one of the toughest in the game and can be intimidating to any rookie quarterback. But Smith is not just any rookie quarterback. He is not afraid to stand in the pocket when there are guys around him pressuring him. He’ll make plays whether if it is with his feet or through the air.
The Bengals’ biggest defensive task on Sunday will be to contain Smith. Their track record against rookie quarterbacks and the Jets in general is not a good one. The Jets have won their past three meetings with the Bengals, including the 2009 wild card playoff game in Cincinnati. The Bengals’ record against rookie quarterbacks since Mike Zimmer arrived in 2008 is 7-8.
With the loss of Leon Hall, the Bengals’ secondary will need to step up to fill his shoes. Smith can run with the ball and has the arm to throw it deep down the field, so getting to him early and making him feel uncomfortable is going to be a big key to this game for the Bengals’ D.
Because of the toughness and skill of both these defenses, I don’t see it being a high scoring affair. Bengals will win, however, with a final score of 17-13.
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