The Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) welcome the New York Jets (4-3) to Paul Brown Stadium Sunday at 4:05 pm as they try for a fourth consecutive win against a mind-numbingly average Jets team.
The Jets have been as inconsistent as any team in the NFL this year having lost every game following a win. If they keep to this methodic system, then the Bengals should have their first four-game winning streak since Week 13 of last year.
While Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan has been reiterating that there is no rule to winning consecutive games in the NFL, it is a daunting task when asking a rookie quarterback to do that against a defense like the Bengals’ and its offense that is catching fire.It would be easy to predict a Bengals’ win at home, but in order to take a strong foothold on the division; there are a few demons they’ll have to exercise.
1. Defense against rookie quarterback
This is a double-edged sword. On one hand, Geno Smith has been absolutely awful following a win, giving up seven interceptions against one touchdown in three games. Granted, each of those losses came against top NFL defenses like the Steelers, Titans, and Patriots but things won’t get any easier against the Bengals’ ninth-ranked total defense.
Conversely, the Bengals have been about dead even when facing rookie quarterbacks with a 7-8 record. Last week, the Bengals gave up a season-high 357 yards to Matthew Stafford and had problems stopping Calvin Johnson – but who doesn’t? With Leon Hall lost for the season with an Achilles injury, Smith could break tradition and have a big game following a win by going to Jeremy Kerley who had eight catches for 97 yards and a touchdown. It will be a trying game for the Bengals’ secondary, but it is a unit that has become very accustomed to relying on backup players and is a testament to the Bengals’ depth.
2. Andy Dalton staying red hot
As I stated in my last article, the Bengals’ offense has been steam rolling into the close of the first half and that is thanks to the play of Andy Dalton. He has thrown for more than 300 yards the past two weeks and had his best game this season against a decent Detroit secondary with three touchdowns, 372 yards passing and a staggering qb rating of 135.9.
The Jets have a good defense, especially at the front line so Dalton may not be the beneficiary of a week without a sack like he was against Detroit. The Jets’ front line is no joke with Muhammad Wilkerson leading the group with 6.0 sacks and 26 tackles who might pose a problem for right tackle Andre Smith.
3. Which defense is better?
The Bengals’ defensive line is more battled tested and better across the board. Geno Atkins hasn’t had the same success stat wise this season, but he is still getting pressure up the middle and will be a handful for Jets’ rookie guard Brian Winters. With Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap shoring up the ends, Geno Smith won’t have long to expose the Bengals’ depleted secondary.
Aside from Wilkerson, the Jets’ defense isn’t loaded with huge play makers with big stats, they just do a lot of things right; tackle the defender in open field, don’t get beat by receivers, and keeps plays short. Jets’ veteran corner back Antonio Cromartie will be in charge of doing just that against A.J Green who has had two consecutive games with 100 yards or more receiving and a td catch.
Bengals’ linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who is a tackling machine, is quietly having the best season for a Bengals’ defender with 74 tackles, one sack, and one interception. The closest Jets’ defender to Burfict is veteran ILB David Harris who has 57 tackles and two sacks: Edge – Bengals.
4. Special teams
Special teams won the last two games for the Bengals’ off the leg of Mike Nugent. Not only has Nugent proven to be a clutch field goal kicker at the buzzer, but the Bengals’ special teams has been winning the field position battle that will be crucial in a defensive game with the Jets.
The Bengals had a stroke of luck last week when Detroit punter Sam Martin shanked a punt for 28 yards to the Bengals’ 49-yard line with 26 seconds left that set up the game-winning field goal. They also got a blocked field goal from Carlos Dunlap showing just how important special teams can be to winning games.
The Bengals are at home and if they control the field and the offense stays hot, it will be too much for Jets rookie qb Geno Smith as he keeps with tradition and throws up an L after a big win.
Bengals go into a Halloween showdown with the Miami Dolphins 6-2 with a 27-17 win over New York.