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Breaking Down the Jets vs the Bengals

After an early bye week, the New York Jets welcome in the reeling 0-5 Cincinnati Bengals. Nothing has gone right for the Bengals since QB Carson Palmer got injured in the 2005 playoffs and 2008 looks to be another tough season for the team. The Jets will look to continue the Bengals losing streak and build off an impressive win against the Arizona Cardinals as they begin their quest for the playoffs.

Bengals Offense vs. Jets Defense

The Bengals come at you with what should be a superstar fantasy lineup. At one point in time this team fancied themselves as the new Indianapolis Colts, but they have proved to be nothing but hype on the offensive side of the football. Palmer stands tall and has a strong arm, but has taken a beating the last two years and the question has to be asked as to whether or not he is a winner. There are times when he just looks frustrated with the play of his team and mentally not prepared to be a leader of the club. His biggest weapon is WR TJ Houshmandzadeh. He does a great job catching the ball over the middle and scampering with the ball after a reception. He will likely catch 100 passes this season. The loud mouthed Chad ďOcho CincoĒ Johnson has spent more time talking about his name change rather than focusing on playing football. He has been a terrible distraction to his team and has been invisible this season. Whether its due to injuries which have not allowed him to be at full strength or where he is mentally, the results are disappointing to the Bengals. Antonio Chatman and Chris Henry will also see plays in the game. Their passing game gets no help from their running backs. Chris Perry is averaging under 3 yards per carry and is good for at least one fumble a game. The team just signed former Bears bust Cedric Benson to bring a new look to the running game, but he has been a complete NFL failure that its hard to imagine him having much of an impact. The Bengals line has become atrocious during the last two seasons. Palmer gets battered around and he has been sacked 15 times in his last two starts.

The Jets have likely spent the bye week trying to determine how to fix their pass defense, specifically covering anyone going across the middle of the football field. They are giving up a ridiculous amount of 1st downs via the pass, most of which are attributed to the failure to cover the middle on third down. The Bengals are the kind of team, where if they get into a rhythm, can exploit the defense with Houshmandzadeh and Chatman going across the middle. With no running game to concern themselves with the Jets need to mix up their blitzing and disguising their coverage to try to bait Palmer into a mistake. With all the hits Palmer has taken his first instinct has become to rush the play leading to some bad decisions. There are times when he just isnít pulling the trigger and other times where he throws it to the wrong spot to avoid a hit. The team itself is so mentally fragile that it is only a matter of time before Johnson is all over Palmer on the sidelines about the lack of balls being thrown his way. This is a game the Jets can approach very similar to the way they approached the game against Arizona. The Jets are doing an excellent job at creating turnovers this year and the Bengals are one of the worst at protecting the football. If the Jets swipe at the ball as best as they can on every play good things are going to happen. Even if things are close late in the game the team can not give up on creating a turnover to change the momentum as the Bengals have turned it over 6 times in the 4th quarter this year.

The one thing the Jets can not do is get overconfident against the Bengals. While their numbers are down, they have played better on the road this season than at home and the league is just waiting for an offensive explosion from them. The way the Jets defense has played, especially late in games, makes the Jets the perfect opponent for it to happen against. They have been a very streaky team in the past and even in the games they have played well in this season it usually just takes one drive to start them playing well. Itís very important that the Jets shut them right down at the start, something they could not do against the Patriots and Chargers. The Bengals have only scored 6 first quarter points all season in 14 drives. If the Jets let them feel good about themselves early the offense may finally get that explosion they have been waiting for.

Bengals Defense vs. Jets Offense

Cincinnati has actually shown some improvements on defense this season. While they have not played many big offensive teams they did give both the Cowboys and Giants enough trouble to keep them in check most of the game. The Bengals have become very hard to throw the football on. They are doing a good job of eliminating the deep portion of the football field and keeping everything in front of them where they can wrap up a receiver. The Bengals drop most of their guys back into coverage and bring zero pash rush at all. CB Leon Hall has played very well and the team has done well holding Plaxico Burress, Terrell Owens, and Braylon Edwards in check this season. Their run defense is terrible and they have yet to stop anyone from running on them. Their down linemen create no push into the backfield, while their linebackers do not take very good angles to contain the runners or do a good job hitting a moving target. Other than Hall and potentially rookie LB Keith Rivers this is a defense filled with players that would not start on many other NFL teams.

It will be interesting to see how the Jets attack this game this weekend. The logical approach is to allow Brett Favre to have a very quiet day where he manages the game and allows his guys to simply push the Bengals defense around., but the Jets running game has been borderline awful this season. Thomas Jones has not shown the burst necessary to be counted on every play and Leon Washington may not be disciplined enough to take the ball from scrimmage and turn it into something against this team. The Jets will be activating Jesse Chatman for the game and he should factor into the mix as well. The Jet runners need to be patient against the Bengals and allow the play to develop for them. This is something that Jones has not allowed to happen and Washington is not great at. Teams have done a good job using delays and misdirection plays to really hammer the Bengals and these are the types of plays that Washington and Chatman may excel at. The Jets have the weapons in the passing game to try to spread the defense thinner in the secondary and take their chances if they want to. Other than Hall, there should be very little worry of a Favre interception unless its of the variety that came in the game against Arizona. Both Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery might be used as much as decoys for Chansi Stuckey and Dustin Keller as they will be as the main passing targets. Favre will take his shots to both and it might not be shocking to see a flea flicker style play this week to try to take it deep early on.

While the last game was extremely important for Favre to get his statement game as QB of the Jets, this game will be equally important for the Jets running game and offensive line. At best all the high priced pieces of the line and the runners can be deemed mediocre one quarter of the way through the season. If they can not get their legs going in this game when can it ever happen? The Jets are one of only 2 teams in the NFL without a run of over 20 yards. If the Jets linemen cant smack around the Bengals players at and beyond the line and the Jets runners cant make them miss and get that 20 yard gain this week it is time to start thinking about abandoning the run and thatís not an easy way to win in todayís NFL. A big performance in this facet of the game will give the Jets a lot of confidence as they go into a portion of the schedule against all subpar defensive teams.

Special Teams

When it comes to leg strength neither of the Bengals kickers bring much to the game as both rank close to the bottom of the NFL in that category. The Jets will get their chances to return the ball. The Jets will again turn to Jay Feely for kicking duties and he has been underwhelming to say the least. If anyone else was available Feely would have been cut by now. Reggie Hodges gets his chance to punt for the squad, but has never caught on with an NFL team and it is hard to imagine him being a big upgrade in the punting game. If neither kicks the ball well it could be a long day for the Jets special teams. Both Glenn Holt and Antonio Chatman are among the leagues best in returning kicks.

Coaching

Marvin Lewis is likely playing out his string as head coach of the Bengals. He has been unable to get them over the hump and he has very publicly let the inmates run the asylum. His team has shown very little ability to play in a close game in the 4th quarter which is where games are often won or lost in the NFL. He was in a similar spot to this one last season and did beat the Jets at home, however. He has a 4-6 record in the back end of back to back road games. Eric Mangini is coming off a solid performance against the Cardinals and needs to get the team over .500 rather than constantly chasing it over these next few weeks. If he can get another big win this week people will start to take notice. Mangini has pulled off two big upsets off his bye weeks in his two years as head coach of the Jets, so unless the birth of his new child has hurt the teams preparations you should expect him to bring an excellent gameplan to attack the Bengals.

Overall

Of all the winless teams the Bengals are the best of the bunch. They have had a chance to win all but one of their games before they allow mental mistakes to have them losing big. If the Jets take them lightly and allow the Bengals to get off to a fast start they can lose this one. If the Jets turned a corner against the Cardinals this is a game they have to win. Good teams do not lose a game like this at home. If the Jets lose this game it is going to be hard to consider them a good football team anymore.

The game against Arizona was probably a good learning experience for the Jets defense. They let up and allowed the Cardinals back into a game that should have been a laugher. Knowing that the Bengals often play the same way and knowing that it really can happen should keep them from turning the switch off in their heads. The Jets will likely come out aggressive and knock Palmer around early and keep the pressure coming all game. The Bengals lack of a true threat in the passing game from the tight end or the running back spot benefitís the Jets tremendously. While they have to cover players like Henry and Chatman at WR, the Jets have done well enough keeping 3rd and 4th Wrs in check.

If the offense can get the running game going it could set Favre up for some big plays. If any of the Jets receivers can sneak behind the Lbs that will set up a big gainer off a short ball for Coles or Cotchery. The Jets passing game has the chance to do something that some supposed premier passing offenses have been unable to do against the Bengals in putting up big numbers and multiple scores. Cincinnati is terrible on third downs and this is the kind of opponent where the team can finally get some real flow on offense. Even against the Cardinals the Jets didnít do great on third down and that is something they hope to see change beginning this week. If the Jets are able to impose their will on the Bengal defense it will be a great sign that the early season learning curve is finally over and the team has truly turned the corner.

The Bengals wont give up this week and will make the crowd uneasy in the 4th quarter, but the Jets will pull away late to move to 3-2 on the season.

Jets 34 Bengals 23