NFL Wild-Card Weekend: Jets Vs. Bengals | Preview & Predictions

Jeff SmithCorrespondent IJanuary 6, 2010

Wild-card Weekend

New York Jets  @ Cincinnati-Bengals/team-report.shtml">Cincinnati Bengals  (-3 )  Current Over/Under 34.5
Paul Brown Stadium, 4:30 PM ET on NBC

In a 4:30 P.M. start this Saturday, Jan. 9, the first game of the playoffs is actually a rematch of a week 17 clash between New York and Cincinnati. By virtue of their 37-0 win last week, the 9-7 Jets earned the No. 5 seed while 10-6 Cincinnati having already clinched the AFC North a few weeks back is the No. 4 seed.

If last week was any indication of how this game might go, it will be a long day for the Bengals. In that game, the Jets jumped all over the Bengals early and never let up. Granted there was nothing on the line for Cincinnati as their position in the playoffs was pretty much set; however, there has to be some concern that they were completely outplayed in every phase of the game.

It was so bad that Bengal QB Carson Palmer was held to zero yards passing as he completed just one out of 11 attempts and also threw an interception. The Jets on the other hand moved the ball at will, compiling 320 total yards of offense. The most impressive and telling statistic from that game is they gained 257 yards on the ground.

They also enjoyed a better than two to one advantage for time of possession and scored on three of their five red zone possessions. All in all it was a game to forget for Cincinnati as they turn their focus towards this week’s game which has far more meaning.

The emotional impact of WR Chris Henry’s tragic and recent death on Cincinnati as a team is hard to measure, but at this point it appears to have sucked some of the life out of this team. After a fantastic 7-2 start, they began to show some troubles especially on offense and stumbled to a 3-4 finish.

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Their defense has remained fairly solid and ended up ranked fourth overall, but their offense slipped down the ranks ending up 24th overall.

All season long, the Jets have lived by their defense which is ranked No. 1 in points allowed; 14.8, total yards allowed; 252.3, and passing yards allowed; 153.7. The only potential kink in the armor is their rushing defense which is ranked eighth. The offense has been their Achilles' heel all season long.

They have gone through the growing pains of having rookie QB Mark Sanchez lead the way, as he has played both great and awful at times. The strength of the offense lies in the running game with Thomas Jones. Jones ran for 1402 yards on 331 carries and scored 14 TD’s in the regular season.

For Cincinnati, success in this game comes down to the ability to do three things. First and foremost they need to put the past behind them and play this game as if it was the first one of the season. Second, they need to contain Jones and force Sanchez to beat them with his arm.

Finally, they need to get back to the fundamentals on offense of running the ball with Cedric Benson and throwing the ball to Chad Ochocinco as these two players give Palmer the best chance to move the ball against the Jet’s defense.

For New York, they need to pick up where they left off last week by continuing to ram the ball down the Bengals throats on offense and to completely smother them on defense. If they can establish the run early it will allow them to set the tempo of the game by controlling the clock with extended drives that keep the Bengals offense on the sidelines.

More importantly, it will take the pressure off of Mark Sanchez to try and win this game through the air.

The Jets' No. 1 ranked defense will be the difference in this game. Cincinnati simply does not have enough weapons to effectively neutralize the attack style game plan that Rex Ryan will surely employ. Look for New York to grind out a win on the road in a low scoring battle. I’m going with the JETS and the UNDER.

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New York Jets Betting Trends
  • NY Jets are 5-1 ATS in their last six games
  • NY Jets are 5-1 SU in their last six games
  • The total has gone UNDER in four of the NY Jets last six games
  • NY Jets are 4-1 ATS in their last five games on the road
Cincinnati Bengals Betting Trends
  • The total has gone UNDER in four of Cincinnati’s last 6 games
  • Cincinnati is 13-6 SU in its last 19 games
  • Cincinnati is 1-6 ATS in its last seven games
  • Cincinnati is 5-0 SU in its last five games at home