The Cincinnati Bengals have been a very good football team for years. They have done extremely well drafting and developing their players, and it shows. The Bengals have been playoff bound for the last 5 straight years. Over that time they have compiled a regular season record of 52-27-1. This time frame coincides precisely with the arrival of wide receiver A.J. Green and quarterback Andy Dalton in rounds one and two, respectively, of the 2011 NFL draft. Since those two arrived the Bengals have never missed the playoffs, though they have also never won a playoff game.
The Dalton/Green Bengals have been nearly as tough to beat on the road (24-14 with Dalton in the lineup) as at home (26-12-1 with Dalton in the lineup). They've been more or less equally tough to beat in every month of the season, other than January. They've done well when Dalton is limited in the passing game and when he has put up monster games. They've done well when Green is shut down and when he dominates. The Dalton/Green Bengals have a winning record against every division in the NFL. They've won more or less equally on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays. There isn't a single NFL team with a winning record against them. Are you getting the point? It has been pretty darn difficult to beat the Bengals in the regular season. So what's the winning formula?
Well, there is no magic bullet. Nothing guarantees success against this deep, well balanced and successful franchise. But there is an interesting statistic. The stat of the week. Over the last two years the Bengals have a 22-11-1 record, including playoff games. Over that same time frame, when the Bengals are held under 100 yards rushing, they are 4-8. To the extent there is a good way to beat the Bengals, shutting down the running game certainly seems to fit the bill.
Fortunately for the Jets, this may be right up their ally. The Jets have ranked 6th and 3rd in the NFL, respectively, in 2014 and 2015 in yards per carry given up by the defense. The Bengals have ranked 10th and 13th, respectively, in 2014 and 2015 in yards per carry. The Jets should have the edge here, though the loss of Damon Harrison might put a damper on that. If the Jets can establish dominance in their run defense early and turn the Bengals into a one dimensional passing team, the stat of the week suggests the Jets will have a good chance of putting opening day into the win column. If on the other hand the Jets are gored by the Bengals' running attack it may well be a long and frustrating day at MetLife Stadium.