By Vincent Fodera @Fodera80
The 4-7 New York Jets head to Paul Brown Stadium for a Week 13 matchup with the 0-11 Cincinnati Bengals. The Jets are in the midst of 3-game win streak where they have looked virtually like an entirely different team than the one that took the field the first 8 games of the season. On the other end of the spectrum, the Bengals are mired in an 11-game losing streak to begin the season and are running out of time to collect a Win to avoid becoming just the third team in NFL history to go winless in a 16-game season. Is the threat of joining the 2008 Lions and 2017 Browns in NFL infamy enough to motivate the Bengals to a surprise win? Could the Jets fall victim to a trap game, riding high on what they’ve accomplished the past 3 weeks? Or does the young, hungry core of Sam Darnold, Jamal Adams, and LeVeon Bell have what it takes to keep the team’s collective vision on what’s directly in front of them?
OL Chuma Edoga - OUT LB C.J. Mosely - OUT LB Paul Worrilow - OUT DL Henry Anderson - QUESTIONABLE OT Kelvin Beachum - QUESTIONABLE S Mathias Farley - QUESTIONABLE OG Alex Lewis - QUESTIONABLE
DL Steve McClendon - QUESTIONABLE CB Darryl Roberts - QUESTIONABLE
WR Demaryius Thomas - QUESTIONABLE
WR A.J. Green - OUT TE Drew Sample - OUT TE Cethan Carter - OUT OG Alex Redmond - OUT LB Nick Vigil - QUESTIONABLE
The Jets injury report has been lengthy all year and this week is no different. This week features 3 names on the starting Offensive Line, with Edoga already being confirmed as inactive. If Alex Lewis and Kelvin Beachum can’t go, look for Geno Atkins to be a primary disruptive force out of the 3 technique. C.J. Mosely’s mysterious groin injury will continue to keep him sidelined this week, as it has virtually all season. One would wonder, at what point do the Jets make the decision to shut him down and open up a roster spot, as the depth on this football team has been massacred by injury. Two Jets defensive linemen also appear as questionable for the Jets. The emergence of Foley Fatukasi takes the sting away from a potential loss of McClendon, and the surprising efficiency of UDFA Kyle Phillips and 2018 3rd Round Pick Nathan Shepherd mitigate against the ill effects of Henry Anderson being missing from the lineup. Darryl Roberts seems to have been Wally Pipped by 6th round rookie Bless Austin who has been very effective since being activated from the NFI list in early November, while Mathias Farley hasn’t seen his number called much if at all this year.
On the Bengals end, star WR A.J. Green has been a similar story to C.J. Mosely, is a weekly “maybe next week”. The team is also down two Tight Ends, limiting the depth behind C.J. Uzomah and the oft-injured Tyler Eifert. Guard Alex Redmond was placed on the IR this week, which will make life for Joe Mixon and the rest of the Bengals ground attack no easier going up against the Jets’ vaunted rush defense. LB Nick Vigil also appeared on the injury report, but the Bengals are optimistic he can play.
What to Look For
The New York Jets head into this matchup with the number one rush defense, allowing just 3 yards per carry and 78.1 yards per game. The Jets also currently rank 19th in passing yards allowed averaging 243 yards per game, however over the past 3 weeks they’re allowing just under 190 passing yards per game, good for 9th best in the NFL over the same timespan. Despite a talented backfield consisting of Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard, the Bengals rushing attack has been lacking this year, ranking 28th in the league. They’re passing attack hasn’t been much better, ranking 20th, which is likely bolstered by being pass-heavy late in games while trying to play catch-up. With that said, look for the Bengals to attack the Jets with short dink and dunk style passes. The Jets have been very blitz heavy lately to make up for their lack of a true pass rusher, and they may not be confident in their run game’s ability versus the Jets front seven. Andy Dalton makes his return this week, and while not future Hall of Famer, he has plenty of experience in this league and is a smart quarterback. The weakness of this Jets defense is undoubtedly the cornerbacks. While Austin and Maulet have been surprisingly serviceable, they have been aided by the pass rush. If Dalton can get the ball out quickly on crossing routes and short outs, they may be able to build a few drives on this defense.
Much like their offense, the Bengals defense ranks in the bottom half of the league in both run and pass defense. Luckily for them, the Jets rushing offense has been very slow to take off this year, thanks in large part to a sub-par offensive line. If the Jets are in fact missing multiple pieces on the offensive line this week, it could become an equalizing factor, giving the Cincinnati front seven the edge they’ve been lacking this season. In any event, expect the Jets to utilize a lot of the same play designs they have the past few weeks. That means an increased focus on getting LeVeon Bell involved in the passing game and designed plays to get Darnold throwing outside the pocket on play-action and bootlegs. Getting Sam Darnold outside the pocket has been essential to his success this year, he simply does not have the time he needs when the offensive line has to protect him standing still. The Bengals defensive backfield has been underwhelming this season, so giving the Jets receivers extra time to get open should go along in landing some splash plays to open up the game, and hopefully open up some running lanes for Bell in the second half.
The strengths of this Jets team seem to match up pretty well with the weaknesses of the Bengals, I expect them to exploit those mismatches. While I don’t believe the Bengals are quite as hopeless as their record indicates, they are 0-11 for a reason. Final score, Jets 24 Bengals 13.