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Bengals and Jets to Face Off in Jungle for a Rematch in Playoffs

Following Sunday’s 37-0 loss to the New York Jets, the Cincinnati Bengals will be opposing the Jets for a second weekend in a row in the heart of the Jungle down at Paul Brown Stadium. Kickoff for the game will be around 4:30 PM as the home team Bengals are the quick 4 1/2 point favorites following their blowout loss.

Last night’s game didn’t provide a lot of game film for the Jets to look at, but basically rolling over for the team when the third seed was in grasp is not something I would encourage. Carson Palmer was completed one pass in 11 attempts for zero yards while throwing an interception in a little over two quarters. While defensive end Robert Geathers, defensive tackle Domata Peko and linebacker Rey Maualuga did not play due to injury, running back Cedric Benson sat to rest up for the playoffs to allow back ups Bernard Scott and Larry Johnson to rack up 58 yards combined. Head Coach Marvin Lewis is doing and going to do what is best for this team. Whether we like it or not, he is the coach, not the fans, and he has put the time in to earn his title, fans have not.

Although Lewis has not had to sit through and watch what the fans have over the last two decades, he is currently in his 7th season as Head Coach of our Cincinnati Bengals and trying to save the ship. In his tenure, Lewis has had to deal with criminals, deaths, a gut-wrenching and flag deserving hit on Carson Palmer, heart-breaking, nail biting wins and losses to go along with three .500 seasons, two sub-.500 seasons, and two playoff seasons as our Head Coach. But at some point, rolling over on purpose when our NFL laughing stock Bengals are playoff bound is unfathomable and unacceptable.

We as Bengals fans believe no game, no matter the record, is worth laying down for the sanctity of playing the same team the following week. But let me tell you what Marvin Lewis is thinking. Given the chance to take the same game back home, where a packed home crowd will rock the Jungle against a team with a rookie quarterback sounds pretty good. Extra motivation and momentum aside, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has thrown 20 interceptions this year. Fourteen of those interceptions have come in the fourth quarter and six of his interceptions this year have been on third down. With the additions of Geathers and Peko back into the defensive line mix, the Jets won’t be able to run as well as they did Sunday.

Sanchez wasn’t that great last night, completing just 50% of his passes (8 of 16) for only 63 yards. But then again, he did not have to be exceptional with the way Brad Smith, the wide receiver that runs the wildcats, Thomas Jones, the NFL’s third rushing leader and Shonn Greene ran the ball last night. The Bengals were reeling last night, missing Rey Maualuga’s presence and ability to stop the run while the Jets as a team racked up a total of 257 yards on the ground.

Come Sunday, the Bengals will need a lot of help when it comes to stopping the run as well as the pass, because Mark Sanchez has the ability to make plays with his arm and shouldn’t be taken lightly just because of the amount of interceptions he throws. The talent that New York possesses on the receiving end with wide receivers Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, Brad Smith and David Clowney along with tight end Dustin Keller is second to none.

At the same time, even though the Jets have the eighth best rush defense in the league, they will have to face off against Cedric Benson. This season, the Jets have faced Maurice Jones-Drew, Chris Johnson, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Of those, Jones-Drew ran for over 100 yards, Johnson for 97 yards, Williams with 40 and Stewart with 35. Williams and Stewart occurred in the Jets’ 17-6 win against the Carolina Panthers. Benson, who has rushed for 1,251 yards on 301 carries this season, has six rushing touchdowns and is looking to help keep the ball rolling on offense against the stingy Jets’ defense.

For the Bengals to win this game, offensively, quarterback Carson Palmer will need to be more accurate, the offensive line will need to win the battle up front and protect Palmer, the tandem of running backs will need to find the holes and take them when the offensive line gives them, and the receivers need to do a better job of catching the ball and running their routes and for both Palmer and the receivers, they need to be on the same page. Defensively, the Bengals need to make tackles, disallow big plays, win the battle for the line of scrimmage, and act like the team that has one of the best defenses in the league. Due to injuries, safety Tom Nelson has been thrust into the starting role, and although he’s looked overmatched, especially last night, I trust that defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer will help Nelson fix his problems.

However this week plays out, a one-and-done playoff team is not going to help Mike Brown win back fans. A deep playoff run is needed to help bolster not only this club, but help fans regain their trust in Marvin and the players.

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