The New York Jets have been very good defensively this season, but there has been one noticeable weakness. The Jets have struggled to force turnovers, and they are ranked 30th in the NFL in takeaways. That means that the Jets are allowing too many drives to continue for too long, and they are not setting their offense up with any short fields.
However, things could be looking up for the Jets on Sunday. The Cincinnati Bengals have a -2 turnover differential this season, and Andy Dalton has been a very turnover prone quarterback in his three years in the league. The Bengals have done a fairly good job protecting Dalton this season, but the Jets rank 3rd in the NFL in sacks, and they should be able to pressure Dalton. That pressure could force him into mistakes, which would be a huge boost for the Jets.
Dalton has 35 interceptions and 11 fumbles in his 39 career games, so the Jets have to like their chances of getting their hands on the ball a few times. Everything begins up front with Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, who must pressure Dalton and force him to make rushed decisions and throws. Quinton Coples needs to be a factor in this game, and he finally recorded his first sack of the season on Sunday. If he can provide a consistent edge rush threat, the Jets will be a much more complete defense.
On the back end, the Jets need to double team A.J. Green on every play, period. This goes entirely against how Rex Ryan likes to play, but Green is a special talent and has been targeted on 48% of Dalton’s pass attempts. If the Jets can slow Green down and force Dalton to look elsewhere, they will cripple the Bengals’ passing attack.
Antonio Cromartie will shadow Green all day, but he needs safety help. If the Jets are smart, they will give it to him and take away Dalton’s favorite receiver or force him to throw into double coverage. Either scenario works in the Jets’ favor, so they need to focus on getting into those positive situations.
This is most likely going to be a low scoring game, and if the Jets can force a couple takeaways they would likely be the difference in the contest. The Jets are overdue for a few interceptions, and Dalton might just be the perfect quarterback for them to get a few off of.