Sunday, October 12, 2008

Jets vs Bengals Preview

Two weeks after destroying the Arizona Cardinals, the New York Jets are well-rested and ready to take on the winless Cincinnati Bengals. Don't be fooled by Cincinnati's 0-5 record as they've played some of the better teams in the league (New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys) down to the wire, but without Carson Palmer, it could be a struggle to put up points. Still, winless teams are dangerous because they are desperate. But can Ryan Fitzpatrick come into the Meadowlands and upset the Jets? Let's take a look at each facet of this game.

Jets passing offense vs Bengals passing defense
Cincinnati's defense actually ranks sixth against the pass, and their number one cornerback Johnathan Joseph is fully healthy this week, a welcome sight for the Bengals. He and Leon Hall are a talented tandem of young cornerbacks, but they will have their hands full against Brett Favre and the Jets. If the front seven can generate some pressure, Favre might force a few passes and make a few turnovers, but that seems unlikely, as they have just three sacks in five games. Still, don't look for Favre to have a field day on this secondary, but he should be able to make enough plays with Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery. Look for Dustin Keller to possibly have an increased role.

Jets rushing offense vs Bengals rushing defense
Teams have been able to rush for an obscene 171 yards per game against a porous Bengals front seven. Keith Rivers is a good young player, but he has little help, but most of those yards came against the Ravens, Titans, Cowboys, and Giants, four of the better rushing teams in the NFL. The pressure is starting to mount on Thomas Jones. He ran for over 100 yards against Miami, but he hasn't been much of a factor since. If the Jets do not run fairly well on Sunday, it will be alarming. Don't expect 171 total yards on the ground, as a lot of those yards in the other games were in garbage time, but expect it to be much better than it was the past three weeks.

Bengals passing offense vs Jets passing defense
With Carson Palmer at the helm, this would be an extremely interesting matchup to look at. With Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick, not so much. You may recall Fitzgerald playing great in his first game with St. Louis back in 2005, but since that 300 yard game, he has thrown two touchdowns and ten interceptions in his last four starts, including a 21-35, 156, 1, 3 performance against a shaky Cleveland defense. Chad Ocho Cinco is clearly not himself after a preseason shoulder injury, and as good as TJ Houshmandzadeh is, he's not the fastest receiver, and isn't a major big play threat. Fitzpatrick ran four times for 41 yards last game, so he's a minor threat to run. Look for a lot of passes to slot receiver Antonio Chatman, tight end Reggie Kelly, and runningback Chris Perry in check-downs. Jets' starting safety Eric Smith is out with a suspension, but Abram Elam should be an adequate replacement. This won't be another seven-turnover game, but the Jets' defense should be able to have their way with Fitzpatrick. Bengals' receiver Chris Henry is in his second game back after a four-game suspension, and he could present matchup problems, but until they use him, it's hard to right much about him.

Bengals rushing offense vs Jets rushing defense
If you've watched the Bengals at all this year, you might have a question right now. What Bengals rushing offense? Chris Perry has fumbled five times in five games, and he has averaged just 2.8 YPC. The former Michigan star (whom I hyped up as a fantasy football sleeper this offseason) has struggled to shake off rust, and the rest of the team hasn't helped him out much. Former Bear bust Cedric Benson also figures to get some carries. As far as the Jets are concerned, Kris Jenkins is playing, so they should be able to stop the run. It really is that simple. Playing against the Bengals' offense helps, too.

Special teams
Both teams have kicker problems, as the Bengals signed Dave Rayner to possibly kick for Shayne Graham this week. Jay Feely will kick again for the Jets, replacing the injured Mike Nugent. Reggie Hodges will make his long anticipated debut as the Jets' punter, replacing Ben Graham, who replaced Hodges, who replaced Graham. Got it? Kyle Larson is a consistent punter for Cincinnati. Both teams have return threats, especially the Jets with Leon Washington, but Glenn Holt and Chatman have both made plays for the orange and black, too.

Fitzpatrick is a relative unknown, so that could be a plus for the Bengals, but the Jets have had two weeks to look at tape of both quarterbacks. The Jets have been a traditionally strong team after the bye week, especially under Eric Mangini. With two weeks to prepare against a team missing its leader, the Jets should have intangible edges. The Bengals might also be due for a letdown after losing a heartbreaker to Dallas.

Injury/Suspension news
Chris Henry is in his second week back for the Bengals, who will lose Carson Palmer. A few other starters are also listed as questionable, SS Dexter Jackson, DT John Thornton, and OT Levi Jones.

The Jets will welcome back RB Jesse Chatman after his four-game suspension, but K Mike Nugent and WR David Clowney are still out. DT Kris Jenkins and WR Laveranues Coles should play despite their questionable status, while CB Justin Miller is more of a question mark. The cold of RT Damien Woody is the only real big news for the Jets, as his status is still a question mark. If he is out, backup Wayne Hunter will get the start.

I just can't see how Cincinnati will score. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not an NFL quarterback, and we saw how badly the Jets harassed Kurt Warner. Don't expect 34-0 at halftime, but this is a mismatch. With Carson Palmer at quarterback, this would have been a tough game, but with him gone, this could be a rout.
Jets 34, Bengals 13.

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