Later today in the Bengals vs Jets game, Gang Green is set to open their 2016-2017 season. The Bengals are very talented in the trenches on both sides of the football as this contest will come down to wins the battle of the trenches.
At 1:00 pm today, the New York Jets will get a very big test to start off the season as they face the extremely well-rounded Cincinnati Bengals. This Bengals vs Jets game is especially star-studded in the trenches as it is one of the biggest strengths for Cincinnati. It will be incredibly important for the Jets to hold their own in that department.
Cincinnati has Pro Bowl caliber players in the trenches on both sides of the football. Defensively, tackle Geno Atkins and end Carlos Dunlap make the Bengals one of the toughest defensive lines to contain league-wide. On offense, the Bengals have some great players holding down the fort such as left tackle Andrew Whitworth and right guard Kevin Zeitler.
On the defensive line, the Bengals have an absolutely fierce edge rush, which is capable of makings a quarterbacks day miserable. The 2015 Pro Bowler, Dunlap, is a force to be reckoned with off the edge. His running-mate Michael Johnson is very consistent as he has been disruptive for every season of his career.
Dunlap was a complete beast last season as he broke out with 13.5 sacks to lead the team and 55 combined tackles culminating in his first Pro-Bowl appearance. Jets’ left tackle Ryan Clady will likely see a lot of Dunlap, and it will be very important for Clady to look like his old self and play well Sunday. If he doesn’t, Gang Green could be in big trouble.
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Johnson had a nice season to compliment Dunlap’s dominance as he recorded 5 sacks with 42 combined tackles.
Johnson could be a significant problem for the Jets in Week 1 if the team’s inexperience at right tackle haunts them against a talented player.
On the inside of the defensive line, the Bengals are just as, if not more talented than they are on the outside.
Four-time Pro Bowler Atkins is one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league year in and year out, and Domata Peko is coming off of one of the best seasons of his career despite his old age. These two will will give the Jets’ interior offensive line one of the biggest tests of their season.
As previously stated, Atkins is one of the most dominant interior defensive linemen in the NFL. He came to close to tying his career-high in sacks (12.5) last season as he recorded 11 of them to go along with 42 combined tackles. He is huge in size yet very nimble, which will make him an incredibly difficult matchup for whoever has to face him on the Jets’ offensive line.
While Peko may not be the player that Atkins is, he is still very impactful in his own right. He recorded a career-high of five sacks last season to add to his 35 combined tackles. Peko constantly flies under the radar within one of the league’s most talented defensive fronts, and it is vital that the Jets do not make the mistake of underestimating him.
Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko (94) against the Pittsburgh Steelers during an AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
The Bengals’ offensive line is not quite as talented as their defensive line, but they are still towards the top of the league as a collective unit. Two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth is the glue to their offensive line as he has been one of the league’s best blind-side protectors for a number of years.
Cincinnati also gets solid play from their guards on a weekly basis along with good play for their center Clint Boling. The biggest concern for their offensive line would have to be on the right side as second year right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi is expected to get the start for the first time in his career. Ogbuehi was their first round draft pick a year ago, but his lack of experience could be a concern for the unit early on.
For the Jets’ defensive line, it will be very important that they play a complete four quarters of football against the Bengals’ offensive line. It would be especially effective for them try and expose some of Cincy’s weaknesses by moving their personnel around and showing a bunch of different looks up front.
With all that being considered, it is clear that the Jets will need to hold their own in the trenches on both sides of the football today. If Cincinnati starts to take over in the trenches, things could get very ugly for head coach Todd Bowles and company.