It's Week 17. Do or Die. Win and we're in.
The storylines surrounding tomorrow night's game at Giants Stadium are of epic proportions: Momentous playoff implications, the Twitter war between Revis and Ocho Cinco, the return of Laveranues Coles, and most importantly --- closing out the stadium GangGreen fans never really called home (which includes a halftime ceremony honoring 26 years of Jets football). And did we mention the game was flexed into the Sunday Night Football time-slot and is the Jets' first televised game since SNF moved to NBC?
This is a matchup of two AFC teams that employ very similar styles of football. Both look to use the power-run game to setup the pass, putting their offense in favorable "Third and manageable" situations. Each looks to control the clock, shorten the game, and allow their stout 3-4 defenses to put them in a position to grind out and win games. The Jets are the #1 rushing offense in the NFL and rush, on average, 36.7 times/game -- while the Bengals are ranked #6 and rush 32.5 times/game.
Let's bring the pressure:
This is not the Carson Palmer of 05-06. His knee has been reconstructed and his mobility is somewhat limited. He is primarily a pocket-passer and if the Jets can flush him out of the pocket it will be beneficial to them. Also, the more pressure they can get on him, the greater the chance that Marvin Lewis will pull him out of the game - as they will look to protect their franchise QB. Ellis is obviously a big part of this equation and hopefully he will play (currently listed as ‘questionable')
Stop the run:
As mentioned above, Cincy's offense is predicated on running the football. Cincy is #3 in NFL in rushing attempts at 32.5/game, and they do it well (rushing for 132.3 ypg). The Jets have the #1-ranked pass defense and if they stop the run I believe they can force Cincy into running a very predictable offense --- especially if JT O'Sullivan sees time (being that he has thrown just 3 passes all season).
It's hard to believe GangGreen's playoff chances are still alive being that we are 1-4 in our Last 5 home games, and have lost four games this season in the final two minutes. But it is what it is, and here we stand. The door has been opened and we now control our own destiny.
Mark Sanchez had better wear the Ugg-Helmet:
The projected game-time temperature is 23 degrees - by far the coldest game he'll have played in this season. In the two coldest games at Giants Stadium this season (vs Buffalo and Atlanta), Sanchez has thrown just 1 TD to 8 INT's.
Root for New England??!?!?
Unfortunately, that's what we'll be doing come Sunday, as the Bengals have already locked up the AFC North and their only chance of moving up is if NE loses in Houston and they can play for the 3-seed.
Coach Marvin Lewis said his decision on which players he will be resting will be a game-time decision, and the New England game will obviously have a lot of weight in his decision.
GangGreen will look to rally around their veteran defense to put them in a position to win this game. Cincy has lost their last 3 road games (all of those being against non-divisional opponents). I'm also thinking we get to see 1-2 quarters of JT O'Sullivan which should help a bit.
The emotion that will be exerted from 60,000+ Jets fans twirling their white towels will be a big lift to this team and will help fuel them to victory. I don't expect to see many Bengals fans making it out for this game and I think the HFA will be huge here.
It's all coming together at the right time for the Jets. The defense is getting stops, the special teams have come together as a unit, and the "Ground and Pound" combo of Jones and Greene running behind the Pro-Bowl OL will lead them to victory.
Jets 20, Bengals 13.
StatLine: The Jets are 8-0 when winning the turnover margin.