New York Jets @ Cincinnati Bengals
The Jets are crested with bravado right now, thanks to their effervescent head coach Rex Ryan. They are also a week removed from easily kicking the Bengals all over the field at the last event to ever take place in the Meadowlands.
What To Watch From The Jets
Thomas Jones is a running back that leads the charge in the team's offensive game plan. He has carried the team much of the season, since their passing game has mostly been impotent. The ten year veteran has averaged a steady 4.2 yards per carry on a career high 331 attempts. His 1,402 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground are also career high marks.
Jones caught a career low 10 passes this year, but has averaged nearly 30 throughout his career. He is perhaps a weapon the Jets can use in the passing attack, since the Bengals may disregard him in this area.
Rookie Shonn Greene spells Jones, and has been very impressive. He has played 14 games, but has been used in just five games with frequency. He has still piled up 540 yards at a average of five yards per carry. He hasn't been used in the passing game at all, but he helps keep the Jets churning forward.
The Jets rank first in the NFL in rushing first downs, total rushing plays and yardage. This speaks very highly of their offensive line. The unit is strongest on their left side behind guard Alan Faneca and center Nick Mangold, and left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson. All are Pro Bowl players.
Darrelle Revis is a shutdown cornerback, plain and simple. He is the guy who will be assigned to shadow Chad Ochocinco, forcing the Bengals to try to find their offense elsewhere. Veteran Lito Sheppard bookends the Pro Bowler, and Dwight Lowery is one of the top third cornerbacks in the league. This is the group who will have to carry the team, and allow Ryan to crowd the line of scrimmage with his blitz schemes.
David Harris is the teams star on the front seven of the defense. Harris has piled up 126 tackles, six sacks, two interceptions and forced two fumbles, but will be playing on a tender ankle. Sione Pouha has done a respectable job replacing injured Pro Bowl nose tackle Kris Jenkins, which helps to allow Harris and fellow inside linebacker Bart Scott to excel.
The Jets have a pair of average safeties, and can be exploited up the middle. If Harris isn't able to play to his capabilities, the Bengals will punch the ball up the Jets gut all day.
Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez has struggled mightily this year, throwing 20 interceptions. Yet he is the only rookie quarterback starting in the playoffs.Though Sanchez has had a lot thrown at him by opposing defenses this year, Bengals coaches Marvin Lewis and Mike Zimmer will be looking keep him off balanced all game.
What To Watch From The Bengals
Running back Cedric Benson was the nicest surprise to happen for the Bengals this year. He has churned out a career high 1,251 yards despite missing three games and most of a fourth. If he is going good, it enables quarterback Carson Palmer to methodically pick apart defenses in a controlled and well balanced attack.
Ochocinco is the Bengals main receiving weapon, and has stepped up his game after the team lost fellow wide receivers T.J Houshmanzadeh before the season, and the late Chris Henry during the season. He leads the team with nine touchdowns, and has caught 72 balls. He should keep Revis busy all day.
The Bengals offensive line was thought to be a huge question mark before the season began, so they drafted tackle Andre Smith with the sixth overall pick in the first round. Smith, however, has appeared in just six games and started once. Right guard Bobbie Williams was perhaps the only known commodity for this unit coming in, but the group has been quietly excellent all season.
Though neither the Jets nor Bengals rush the passer particularly well, Cincinnati has an excellent pair of cornerbacks in Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph. Both have six interceptions each and have defended 44 balls combined. They set the tempo of the Bengals defense.
The Bengals have an issue at the free safety position. Chris Crocker missed last week because of an ankle injury, and his replacement Tom Nelson hurt his knee replacing him. Though the Bengals safeties are good at defending the run, none are considered excellent pass defenders. Jets tight end Dustin Keller could be in line for a huge game.
Quarterback : Definite Edge Bengals
Running Back : Slight Edge Jets
Receivers : Even
Offensive Line : Edge Jets
Defensive Line : Edge Bengals
Linebacker : Edge Jets
Secondary : Even
Special Teams : Slight Edge Bengals
Coaching : Even
The Bengals can basically rely on their passing attack more. Both teams are run heavy offenses with excellent cornerbacks on defense. Expect it to be a standstill in the trenches, because both teams should be able to have some success. The key will be if the Bengals can create more turnovers, perhaps scoring off of one.
Bengals 27 Jets 17