New York Jets Opponent Preview: Cincinnati Bengals

The New York Jets storm into Cincinnati looking for a fourth straight win. This week they get the win-less Bengals.

The New York Jets are set to face the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The Bengals are the worst team in the NFL this season. They have yet to win a game and haven’t looked particularly close to ever winning a game this season. In 11 games this year the Bengals have only held a lead in the second half in four games. They’ve only held a fourth-quarter lead in two games, both of which were in the first three weeks of the season.

There really hasn’t been a game that felt like the Bengals could win on the field this year. Now, they host a New York Jets team that is red-hot having won three in a row and having put up three straight games with 34 points. It would seem like an easy victory for the Jets.

The numbers tend to agree with that assessment. The Bengals are 31st in total offense DVOA, 31st in passing offense DVOA, and 26th in run offense DVOA. Their offense is weak but should get a boost this week with the return of Andy Dalton.

Dalton isn’t the best QB, he’s a solidly average to below-average QB in the league, but he’s worlds better than Ryan Finley has been the past few weeks. That should help the Bengals offense that has relied on Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon to carry them. Which is why the Jets have an incredibly favorable matchup against the Bengals.

Tyler Boyd is the Bengals leading receiver and he’ll be covered by Brian Poole on Sunday. Poole has been one of the elite slot CBs in the NFL ad he’s coming off his best game of the season last Sunday. No slot receiver has had 60 or more yards against the Jets this year, not even Julian Edelman. It’s hard to see Tyler Boyd having a big day.

The Bengals lean heavily on their rushing game, which is led by Joe Mixon. Mixon does his best behind a struggling offensive line but is only averaging 3.7 yards per carry. Going up against the best rushing defense in the NFL will make that even harder. The Jets have held Saquon Barkley, Adrian Peterson, and Josh Jacobs to a combined 60 yards on 32 carries, that’s just 1.9 yards per carry. Expecting Joe Mixon to perform any better would be foolhardy.

On the other side of the ball, the Bengals are just as bad. The Bengals are 30th in total defense DVOA, 31st in pass defense DVOA, and 25th in rush defense DVOA. There is no strength in their defensive game. The Bengals have just 16 sacks this season that’s the second-worst pass rush in the NFL. They’ve also only forced 10 turnovers, which is also second-worst in the NFL.

The only saving grace for the Bengals’ defense is that they do a decent job of holding teams to field goals. The Bengals have the fourth-best Red Zone defense in the NFL. It has helped keep their scoring defense to 26th in the NFL. They go up against a Jets offense that ranks 12th in the NFL in Red Zone scoring offense. It’s a strength on strength.

The one part of the game that the Bengals excel at is special teams, they are first in special teams DVOA. Specifically, the Bengals excel in returning kickoffs. They are the best in the NFL on kick returns. Bengals’ kick returner Brandon Wilson is averaging 32.4 yards per return this season. Meanwhile, the Jets have the best kickoff coverage unit in the NFL.

There is no part of the game that the Bengals have a clear advantage against the Jets. A quick look at the numbers says the Jets should win this game handily. However, anything can happen on any given Sunday. The Jets already lost a game to a win-less team this year losing to another isn’t unthinkable, especially on the road.

They’re just 1-4 on the road with losses to the Dolphins, Jaguars, and the Eagles all of whom are under .500. The Jets only road win this year came against the Redskins two weeks ago. So, while this game looks like an easy win on paper nothing is set in stone.