A preview of Gang Green's fight for playoff survival against Cincinnati
Improbably, the Jets' final game of the season has a huge meaning: It's, quite simply, for all the marbles.
Despite their best efforts to throw away this season, New York finds itself in a unique position as they get ready to play the Cincinnati Bengals at home in E. Rutherford on Sunday night. If they win, they make the playoffs. If they don't, then they start the post-season early and dream about what might have been.
Even with the Bengals possibly resting some of their starters, this one isn't going to be easy. Then again, nothing for this team ever does come easy, so why should this game be any different.
The strength of the Jets offense is clearly the running game, spearheaded by a surprisingly resilient Thomas Jones. Unfortunately, the Bengals have been impressively stout against the run this season, allowing just 87 yards per game on the ground and just eight rushing touchdowns (tying them with the Baltimore Ravens for sixth in the entire league.)
Therefore, they may have to entrust the game to the rookie arm of Mark Sanchez, nit a terribly comforting thought. While Jerricho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards have shined recently, if Cincinnati doesn't rest starting cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall, it could be a very long day for Sanchez and the rest of the offense.
On the other side of the ball, Darrelle Revis will be paired up against Chad Ochocinco all day and, as he has with every elite receiver he has faced this year, will likely be able to limit him or shut him down altogether. Expect the Bengals to try running the ball quite a bit with Cedric Benson leading the way. Should Benson exit early, then New York's chances of winning this game grow exponentially.
In the end, I think Cincinnati will err on the side of caution, rest Carson Palmer and the rest of the regulars early and the Jets will beat up on their second string.
If they can't do that, then they have no business being in the playoffs anyway.
Jets 24, Cincinnati 10
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Written by Frank Mazzola