FLORHAM PARK, NJ – This Thanksgiving, the New York Jets (8-2) will be inviting the Cincinnati Bengals (2-8) to sit at their new dinner table and break bread. Either team will sit on each side and are very much mirror opposites of each other. The Jets and Bengals were both heralded as teams ready to make the next step.
The Jets have lived up to those expectations, thus far, hitting a few bumps along the way. The defense, considered to be their strong point coming into the season, has proven to be problematic. Who would’ve thought that the Jets only two losses have been the defense’s best games? The offense, with a plethora of big-play athletes at every skill position, has risen on the arm of Mark Sanchez to an elite level over the last four weeks. Their success has often and it has come late, with their last four wins coming in either the 4th quarter or overtime.
The Bengals, on the other hand, have not. While their offense has been efficient throughout the season, the defense has been their Achilles’s heel. As we saw last week against Buffalo, allowing a team with one win on the season to score 49 points–in every way imaginable, no less–is not the staple of a winning team. Unlike the Jets, Cincinnati has not had the benefit of good luck. Seven of their eight losses could have gone in their favor.
WHEN: Thursday 11/25 @ 8:20 p.m. EST
STADIUM: New Meadowlands Stadium/ East Rutherford, NJ (capacity: 82,500)
SERIES: 21st meeting, Jets lead series 14-7
LAST MEETING: Jets 24 – Bengals 14, Paul Brown Stadium/Cincinnati, OH 1/09/10 (AFC Wildcard Game)
COACHES: Rex Ryan, Jets — second season, 17-9 regular season, 2-1 postseason; Marvin Lewis, Bengals — eighth season, 58-63-1 regular season, 0-2 postseason.
LAST WEEK: Jets — 30-27 win vs. HOU; Bengals — 49-31 loss vs. BUF
INJURY REPORT: JETS; LIMITED — Marquice Cole (hamstring), Drew Coleman (groin), Shaun Ellis (knee), Sione Pouha (ankle), Brad Smith (back)/DNP — Jerricho Cotchery (groin), Damien Woody (knee)/OUT — Dwight Lowery (concussion). PACKERS; LIMITED — Dennis Roland (knee), Antawn Odom (wrist)/DNP — Roy Williams (head), Carson Palmer (foot), Rico Murry (ankle), Jonathan Joseph (ankle), Brandon Ghee (groin)/OUT — Tank Johnson (knee).
JETS RANKINGS:OFFENSE — POINTS PER GAME – 23.8 (12th), TOTAL YARDS – 365.9 (8th), PASS YARDS – 220 (17th), RUSH YARDS – 145.9 (4th). DEFENSE — POINTS PER GAME – 17.7 (5th), TOTAL YARDS – 310.7 (7th), PASS YARDS – 220 (16th), RUSH YARDS – 90.3 (5th).
BENGALS RANKINGS: OFFENSE — POINTS PER GAME – 21.5 (20th), TOTAL YARDS – 346.2 (14th), PASS YARDS – 249.6 (8th), RUSH YARDS – 96.6 (23rd). DEFENSE — POINTS PER GAME – 26.2 (26th), TOTAL YARDS – 341.3 (18th), PASS YARDS – 223 (18th), RUSH YARDS – 118.3 (23rd).
- Terrell Owens vs. Darrelle Revis: Here is the recent communication between the the two over the past couple days. T.O.: “Just an average corner to me. Everybody has assessed his abilities as far as what he did last year, shutdown corner, this and that. He did very well last year. But I think I’m looking forward to the challenge, just like he’s looking forward to the challenge.” REVIS: “I’ll see him on Thursday night. … Everybody knows T.O. He’s going to be T.O.” ‘Nuff said. Get your popcorn ready, Terrell.
- Jermaine Gresham vs. Jets safeties: The lack of a defensive presence against the opposing tight end has been a huge problem for the Jets this season. Gresham is a huge target across the middle and in the red zone for Carson Palmer. The Jets need Brodney Pool to step up in coverage, where Jim Leonhard has struggled against over-sized tight ends.
- Sione Pouha vs. the Clock: Sione will be holding his breath until the clock reads 00:00 so he can get him a turkey thigh or two, maybe a few biscuits, some mashed potatoes. A guy of his stature (6-3, 325) must look forward to the Thanksgiving leftovers more than the actual meal. This is without question the biggest match-up I’ll be watching on Thursday. Somehwere, Kris Jenkins will be sitting with his feet up digging into a triple-layer turkey sandwich, drippings and all.
- SANTONIO HOLMES, JETS: Until he proves otherwise, I fully expect Holmes to win every game for the Jets. Seriously, this guy has ice water running through his veins. He’s scary good right now.I think he could blow up Revis Island at this point.
- CARSON PALMER, BENGALS: This may seem like a cop-out on the x-factors this week, but the fact is that both these players can and might put their respective teams over the top. If a banged up Palmer can beat the less-than-stellar Jets’ passing defense, then I like the Bengals’ odds.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
- GET TO THE QUARTERBACK: Simple as that. The Jets pass rush has been a weak point for the defense, after being a staple to the team last year (32 sacks). With the Bengals tied with the Jets for sixteenth in the league with sacks allowed at 17. The blitz-happy Jets should look to have a feast against the mediocre Bengals pass protection.
- SCORE EARLY & OFTEN: The Jets have shown the ability to score in bunches, just late in games. With everyone raising their blood pressure from gorging themselves on Thanksgiving food, why induce heart attacks with another late-game win? Perhaps it might be beneficial to Sanchez and the offense to start off in a no-huddle, hurry-up style.
- SHOW DISCIPLINE: The Jets are one of the most-penalized teams in the league, which is somewhat surprising considering the player-coach relationship Rex Ryan imposes. The defense needs to do a better job at communicating on plays and finding that thin line between playing aggressive and committing penalties. This will be the third time these teams are meeting over the last 11 months, with the last game ending with the Jets walking away victorious on the Bengals’ home field. There will be no love lost with these two and it will be imperative for the Jets to keep their cool.
THE PICK: Jets 34 – Bengals 28. I usually think the short turnaround between games will favor the offense. The Bengals’ defense is down-right atrocious. And while I’m being honest, the only man who looks capable of beating Sanchez is Bear Grylls. As much as Jets fans may be hoping for a cream puff of a game for dessert, the Jets do not play in blowout games.
The Wait Is Over Darnold Signs Contract, Morning After Report On The One Hand, Marshalls Departure From Afc Bodes Well For Jets, The Other Davis, Jets Chase Olympic Sprinter Jeff Demps, Jets Release Tim Tebow, Jets Release Sione Pouha, Rex Ryan And Jets Players React To Thrilling Win