Despite their recent hot streak, the New York Jets face a dangerous trap game on Sunday against the winless Cincinnati Bengals.
What a difference a few weeks can make. Three weeks ago, the New York Jets were a pitiful 1-7. They had just handed the lowly Miami Dolphins their first win of the season.
The Jets players were openly fighting among themselves, and many Jets fans were already calling for head coach Adam Gase to be fired. The season was looking like a complete disaster.
Following an upset 34-3 drubbing of the Oakland Raiders this past Sunday, the Jets are now 4-7. Instead of talking about changing head coaches or the No. 1 overall draft pick, some Jets fans are now discussing the (extremely slim) possibility of a playoff run.
With Sam Darnold finally looking like a franchise quarterback (seven TD passes/one INT over his last three games) and the Jets defense coming into form (only giving up 20 combined points over the last two games), it is understandable that Jets fans would want to be optimistic.
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However, the fans shouldn’t get too far ahead of themselves. All of the progress the Jets have made lately could easily be lost next week when the Jets take on the 0-11 Cincinnati Bengals.
At first glance, the proposition that the Jets could lose to the Bengals seems far-fetched. After all, the Jets are finally beginning to look like a respectable football team. And the Bengals have been putrid all season.
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Have the Bengals really been that bad though? A deeper dive into the data shows that they actually have been a competitive team.
For instance, the Bengals have had five games this season where they lost by more than seven points. By comparison, the Jets have had six games this season where they lost by more than seven points.
The Bengals have certainly had some bad luck, and they have been unable to finish games. But they have nevertheless put together some impressive efforts.
They played very close games against some of the best teams in football, like the San Francisco 49ers, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Baltimore Ravens.
It is also worth noting that the Bengals announced that Andy Dalton has regained the starting quarterback job. While Dalton (nine TD/eight INT/ 60.4 completion percentage) is far from elite, he is infinitely better than floundering rookie Ryan Finley (two TD/two INT/ 47.1 completion percentage).
In addition to facing Dalton instead of Finley, the Jets also have to play the Bengals on the road. The Jets have struggled on the road all season, posting a poor 1-4 record away from Metlife Stadium.
Gase on the 0-11 Bengals: "This is going to be a tough game for us. Any time you go on the road in the NFL, it's not easy." #Jets
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) November 25, 2019
The Bengals are eager to avoid the infamy of going 0-16, and they see a prime opportunity for their first win of the season against the Jets. The Jets need to be physically and mentally ready for a challenging game. They cannot afford to take Cincinnati for granted.
Fortunately, Adam Gase has taken a cue from Bill Belichick. Gase is saying all the right things, calling the upcoming matchup against the Bengals a “tough game.” Hopefully the Jets players agree with him and prepare accordingly.
Because make no mistake. If the Jets don’t show up ready to play their best football on Sunday, the Bengals will pull off the upset.