The 10-5 Bengals host the 8-7 Jets in front of a sellout at The Meadowlands. The game was flexed to the final Sunday Night Football game of the year. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:15 PM EST Sunday night.
What’s at stake
For the Bengals, not too much. They secured a place at the playoff table last week with a victory over Kansas City last week. Depending upon the outcomes of the earlier games, the Bengals may be locked into the fourth seed with nothing to play for. At most, they may have an opportunity to secure the 3rd seed if the Patriots lose to New England. In this case, they’d potentially get a rematch with San Diego in the second round.
For the Jets, this will be their biggest game of the season. Win the game, and they punch their ticket into the playoffs, and most likely, a rematch with the Bengals in Cincinnati in the first round. The results of the early games have no impact on their ability to get in with a win. With a loss however, the Jets are most likely out.
The Jets beat the Colts in Indianapolis 29-15. The Colts, who have secured home field advantage, rested starters in the second half. Cincinnati defeated Kansas City at home 17-10, locking up the AFC North division championship and at least the fourth seed in the AFC playoffs.
Records & Rankings
- Offense: 20th overall (6th rushing, 22nd passing)
- Defense: 4th overall (2nd rushing, 14th passing)
- Offense: 21st overall (1st rushing, 30th passing)
- Defense: 1st overall (9th rushing, 1st passing)
Bengals: It is difficult to be able to predict who will play and that may not be determined until just prior to kick-off. Officially, Starting S Chris Crocker (ankle) is doubtful and hasn’t practiced all week. Everyone else should be good to go per Coach Marvin Lewis, with DT Tank Johnson, DT Domata Peko, DE Robert Geathers, and TE J. P. Foschi listed as questionable.
Jets: Starting CB Donald Strickland is out. DE Shaun Ellis did not participate in Friday’s practice and is listed as questionable. P Steve Weatherford practiced fully and is listed as questionable.
- If the Bengals lose and the Ravens win, the Bengals will likely face the Jets two weeks in a row, and the Jets would visit Cincinnati in the wildcard round.
- Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco and Jets CB Darrelle Revis exchanged trash-talk via twitter all week.
- Bengals RB Cedric Benson broke a franchise record last week as he recorded his 6th 100-yard rushing game of the season. Larry Johnson and Bernard Scott also have 100-yard rushing efforts this year for the Bengals.
- WR Chad Ochocinco needs 48 yards receiving to get to 10,000 receiving yards in his career.
- The game will be the last regular season football game held at The Meadowlands. Cincinnati is 0-10 all time at the stadium, including a 0-7 mark against the Jets.
- This will be Cincinnati’s first prime-time nationally televised game of the season.
Obviously, a lot depends upon what Bengals coach Marvin Lewis decides to do with his starters after the results of the early games are in. If the Ravens or Patriots lose, the Bengals may take a more aggressive approach to the game. If both win, it may look more like a preseason game from the names on the field. The Jets, on the other hand, will play all their starters in an effort to secure a playoff spot.
The Jets and Bengals are very similar in their styles of play. Both teams play exceptional defense and lean heavily on the running game on offense. The Jets are the only team in the league with more rushing attempts than the Bengals, as HB Thomas Jones has been their bell-cow all year. Rookie Shonn Greene also has 95 carriers and 478 yards in a relief role.
On defense, the Jets utilize a 3-4, similar to the look the Bengals face from all three AFC North foes.
Neither team should change radically for this game. Both will try to manage field position and attack with the running game. The Jets will try to keep QB Mark Sanchez out of 3rd-and-long situations as he leads the league with 20 interceptions. The Jet offense will rely heavily on Jones and Greene, but may have difficulty gaining yardage against the Bengals’ 2nd ranked run defense. The Bengals will want to stuff the run and force Sanchez to throw. Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer may dial up more blitzes in 3rd down situations this week in an effort to force Sanchez into bad throws. However, that may be risky with Tom Nelson slated to start again at safety for the injured Chris Crocker. Nelson has been late in coverage and has been shy in the run game playing in Crocker’s spot.
On offense, Cincinnati will also want to lean on the running game, particularly if Carson Palmer is out or plays sparingly. However, the Jets are ranked 9th in rush defense, and will load the box to force the Bengals to throw. The Bengals continue to have difficulties in the passing game, and the Jets will try to exploit that weakness.
How this game plays out will primarily be determined by games earlier in the day. With the game being flexed to Sunday night, Marvin Lewis has the luxury of knowing if there is anything worth playing for before kick-off. Assuming the Bengals are headed for the fourth seed, look for J.T. O’Sullivan and Larry Johnson to lead the Bengal offense, and the Jets to pull it out, 24-13.
If the Bengals have something to play for, and Lewis lets his starters play, the game will be much more competitive, and the Bengals should be the more talented group on the field. However, my money would still be on the Jets, who have more at stake and are playing at home. In this scenario, the Jets win a close one 17-16.