It's a cliche a quarterback cannot turn the ball over. We could say that just about every week. Look at some of the games in which Mark Sanchez has made critical errors. Against a team with Cincinnati's style, this is even more true. The Bengals are built very much like the Jets, around a strong defense and a power run game. It is going to be a game of field position.
It could be tough sledding for the passing game. The Bengals have a pair of excellent corners, Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph. Life is going to be difficult for Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery. The Cincy pair is the AFC North's version of Revis and Sheppard. Slot receivers have hurt the Bengals this year, but they don't have a ton to worry about in that area. The point is Sanchez should be in code red until the Jets don't have a choice. He needs to understand he is only to throw it when his receiver is wide open.
On paper once again Dustin Keller seems to have an edge. Cincinnati's linebackers, Dhani Jones, Keith Rivers, and Brandon Johnson are average in coverage. The Bengals will miss rookie linebacker Rey Maualuga but not in coverage. He was probably Cincy's weakest linebacker. We'll see a lot of zone from the Bengals, which will give Keller a chance to find seams. The question is whether he can finally deliver a big game. For the second consecutive year, he is ending his season quietly.
Cincinnati's best pass rusher is end Antwan Odom. He has 8 sacks and 10 pressures on the year. Unfortunately for the Bengals, he is on the shelf for the season. Athletic pass rushers Frostee Rucker and Michael Johnson have replaced him. Robert Geathers on the other end has not been prolific as a pass rusher. He's battling a knee problem. Jonathan Fanene has 6 sacks inside for the Bengals. Tank Johnson plays the other tackle and doesn't require significant attention as a pass rusher. Fanene will be Nick Mangold's primary focus. The one piece of good news is the Bengals pass rush hasn't been prolific without Odom and has been anemic at times.
There are some mitigating factors. Three starting linemen are on the injury report. How much will we see of them? How much will the Bengals show? They aren't really a heavy blitzing team but got more aggressive against Matt Stafford than they are normally. Still, with a potential rematch looming, will they hold back? How much will it matter? The Jets are probably going to look to ride their offensive line and put this game into the freezer.