On Sunday the New York Jets (4-3) go on the road to take on the Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) at Paul Brown Stadium (4:05). The Jets are looking to build off of their exciting overtime win over the Patriots, while the Bengals are rolling having won three games in a row. Lets take a look at some of the keys to the game from a New York Jets perspective.
Match the intensity and physicality- Statistically the Bengals defense is one of the best in the NFL. Cincinnati ranks 7th in points given up, 9th in yards, 13th in pass defense, and 9th against the run. The New York Jets offensive line must come out with a very physical style of play in order to win their fair share of battles on the line of scrimmage. The Jets blockers must match the intensity of their opponent, which will be fueled by a raucous home crowd.
Don’t give up on the run- There is a good chance that the Jets will struggle to run the ball on Sunday as the Bengals front seven is one of the best in the NFL. Gang Green must continue to pound the rock in hopes of getting off some big runs and while wearing down the defense throughout the game. New York should utilize both Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell and feature the wildcat formation with Josh Cribbs as well.
Protect Geno- The New York Jets are going to have their hands full in pass protection as the Bengals have several guys that can get after the quarterback. Geno Atkins (4 sacks), Carlos Dunlap (4 sacks), and Wallace Gilberry (3 sacks) can create havoc if the pass protection is not solid and there are lapses in blitz pickup. The Jets offense as a whole must remain consistent in terms of blocking and do an excellent job communicating assignment and protection changes.
Limit turnovers-As with every game Geno Smith must once again take what the defense gives him and avoid bad decisions with the football. Geno should use his legs when the defense warrants it and throw the ball away instead when plays break down. There is a good chance that this is going to be a close, low scoring game, which will put a premium on ball security.
Green vs. Cromartie- A.J. Green is having another excellent season (43 catches, 619 yards, 5 tds) for the Bengals and is the type of player that can take over a game if not accounted for at all times. Antonio Cromartie along with the rest of the Jets secondary must play physical with Green and do their best to prevent yards after the catch.
Contain Bernard- Rookie running back Giovani Bernard is a dynamic playmaker that can beat you running the ball and catching it out of the backfield. The Jets front seven must contain Bernard and get the rookie to the ground upon initial contact.
Tight end troubles- For whatever reason the Jets defense under Rex Ryan has had trouble covering tight ends. This week Gang Green could be facing two dangerous ends as Cincinnati features both Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert. New York’s linebackers and safeties must do an excellent job in pass coverage as both Eifert and Gresham could significantly open up the passing game.
Beat up Dalton- The New York Jets must disrupt the Cincinnati passing game by getting consistent pressure on quarterback Andy Dalton. The defensive tackle group including Sheldon Richardson, Damon Harrison, and Leger Douzable need to get pressure up the middle and force Dalton into poor throws.
This has the potential to be a very physical, low scoring game. I think that both teams are going to be able to stop the run therefore it is going to come down to the passing games and which defense can make more plays. I have some huge concerns with the Jets ability to slow down Bernard and the tight ends. At the same time I think that Geno Smith and the offense have the chance to make some plays if they move the rookie around the pocket.
A huge play on special teams or defense seals the deal for the Jets. 17-13