The New York Jets are coming off their biggest win of the season, a 30-27 overtime upset of the New England Patriots that moved the Jets to 4-3 and in the thick of the playoff race. This week, they take their show on the road, as they will visit the 5-2 Cincinnati Bengals. The Jets have alternated wins and losses every week this season, and they are trying to put together their first winning streak.
The Bengals don’t get a lot of national attention, but they are very good team and the clear favorites in the AFC North. Offensively, the Bengals have a balanced attack that stars A.J. Green, in my opinion the second best wide receiver in football. The Bengals have a solid offensive line, and running backs Giovani Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis are productive runners.
Defensively, a stellar defensive line is headed by Geno Atkins, the best 4-3 defensive tackle in the NFL. The front four will pose a major challenge to the Jets’ offensive line, who will have to be at the top of their game. The rest of the defense is a solid unit, but they lost star cornerback Leon Hall for the season on Sunday. His absence is something that the Jets will look to take advantage of.
The Jets are trying to avoid another letdown following a big win, as they failed to show up for their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers after upsetting the Atlanta Falcons. The Bengals are a much more challenging matchup, and the Jets will need to be at the top of their game to get a win.
Geno Smith has struggled with interceptions throughout the season, and his ability to protect the ball will again be crucial. The Jets tend to go as Smith does, winning in his four best performances and losing in his three worst. Whether or not Smith can continue to be productive and make good decisions is the biggest factor for the Jets in this game. This will likely be a low scoring game between two teams with average offenses and very good defenses, so any turnover could prove fatal.
The Jets’ defense has had some issues against the pass, and facing Green won’t make things any easier. However, they have been able to dominate against the run and control several games, and the ability to force an offense to be one dimensional is very useful. The Jets need a strong defensive performance and a solid rushing attack to control the clock and take the crowd out of the game.
The Jets believe that they can become a playoff team, but they have to be able to string together consecutive wins. This game will be a huge challenge for them, but a win Sunday would solidify the Jets’ standing as legitimate contenders. Playoff teams are nothing if not consistent, and it is time for the Jets to become exactly that.