Just think, the New York Jets could have a record of 5-3 at the end of the weekend, which would already exceed the expectations of many people. Reaching that mark will not be easy as they will visit Paul Brown Stadium to take on the Cincinnati Bengals. What must the Jets do to stun Cincinnati?
Shut down Cincy’s passing attack: The Jets’ secondary fought hard last weekend and prevented Tom Brady from throwing a touchdown pass. This week, they will face a very tough passing attack that includes one of the best receivers in the NFL, A.J. Green. Antonio Cromartie cannot let Cincinnati’s top playmaker get open. In addition, rookie cornerback Dee Milliner will need to have a performance that reminds football fans of his days at Alabama, and Kyle Wilson will have to pull through when the nickel package is on the field. Andy Dalton can be a thorn in any defense’s side if he has a receiver to go to. If the Jets’ secondary can take Green out of the picture, along with Tyler Eifert, Jermaine Gresham, and Mohamed Sanu, it will be a rough day for Dalton.
Take care of the Bengals’ front seven: This game presents the Jets’ offensive line with a big challenge. The Bengals have a tough front seven to compete against. If the Jets want to move the ball and score points, the offensive line will have to block very well. Geno Smith, Bilal Powell, and Chris Ivory will all play key roles in this game, but they will need a lot of room to work with. Smith should be able to make great throws if he has time to read the defense, and Powell and Ivory will be able to gain good yardage and move the chains if they have enough space. Taking care of the Bengals defensive linemen and linebackers will take out the tough part for Geno and the offense to challenge when they have the ball.
Keep the offensive gameplan balanced: It has been shown this year that moving away from the run can hurt the Jets and increase Smith’s chances of making mistakes. They will need to establish the run, but they will also have to let Smith throw the ball. Marty Mornhinweg has put together an offense that can get the job done both on the ground and in the air, and he will need to be able to devise a gameplan that will enable the team to score doing both. Good balance will keep the Bengals on their heels and possibly confuse them or make them overthink.
Win the turnover battle: One main theme throughout the entire season for the Jets has been, and will continue to be, not turning the ball over on offense. The Bengals are a team that will be able to capitalize if the Jets give the ball away. This gives the defense more motivation to force the Bengals to turn the ball over and give Dalton and company a bigger hurdle to jump over. In both of Cincinnati's losses heading into this game, they lost the turnover battle. In their last three games, which went down to the wire, they tied their opponents in giveaways. If Gang Green can force more turnovers than the Bengals and score off of them, they will increase their chances of returning to the Meadowlands with a 5-3 record.
Let Josh Cribbs do his part: Josh Cribbs looked pretty good in his New York Jets debut. He can be an x-factor and help the Jets out tremendously. Although he did not have many opportunities returning kicks and punts last week, he showed how valuable he can be on offense, especially in the Wildcat formation. Whether it is having Cribbs line up as a quarterback or running a route to catch a pass, he will provide a spark that could give the Jets the upper hand. If the special teams units give him room to run on kick and punt returns, he can be dangerous and lead the Jets to easy scoring opportunities and even touchdowns of his own. Think of him as the Jets' new version of Brad Smith, who was a dynamic player like Cribbs.
With the number five seed in the AFC playoff picture going to either the Denver Broncos or the Kansas City Chiefs at this rate, it will be a fight for the last spot among every team in the hunt. Every game gets more important, especially this conference matchup. By following these steps and staying away from big mistakes, the Jets will be able to earn two wins in a row for the first time this season.
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