New York Jets 2021 opponent report: Cincinnati Bengals

joe burrow, bengals

Star-crossed franchises do battle on Halloween, as the New York Jets welcome Joe Burrow and the Bengals to East Rutherford.

The Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals
The Date: Week 7 (Sunday, October 31), 1 p.m. ET, CBS (@ NYJ)
The Series: Jets lead 17-10 (last meeting: 2019, 22-6 CIN)

The New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals are living up to their respective reputations as two of the NFL’s scariest franchises in the modern standings. Entering the 2021 season, the teams are the owners of the longest playoff droughts in football. New York has a sizable margin at ten years, while the Bengals are at five seasons alongside the Cardinals and Broncos. Cincinnati is also nursing the longest active streaks between conference title game appearances (32 years) and playoff victories (30).

It’s thus only appropriate that these doomed squads go head-to-head on Halloween.

If anything, these franchises whose respective timelines have been dominated with tricks appear to have a pair of treats working with them under center. Cincinnati is set to welcome back Joe Burrow, the top pick of the virtual draft in 2020, while the Jets are set to counter with Zach Wilson, the second overall pick from the most recent selections.

The Skinny On the Bengals

The Bengals’ rebuild has entered the stage where they’re eradicating the remnants of the closest thing Queen City has had to professional football glory days since a rare Super Bowl appearance a majority of their fanbase has only seen on YouTube.

Andy Dalton, Andrew Whitworth, Rey Maulaga, and Domata Peko had already vanished. More Cincinnati jerseys became outdated this offseason, as the team bid farewell to Geno Atkins, A.J. Green, Gio Bernard, and Carlos Dunlap. Only tight C.J. Uzomah is left over from the Bengals’ last playoff trip, 2016’s meltdown at Paul Brown (Stadium).

The operation is being overseen by head coach Zac Taylor, who is entering the all-important third year at the helm. Cincinnati is a historically patient franchise: Taylor is only the 10th man to wear the headset for the franchise in their five-plus decades and his predecessor lasted 16 years in the spot without a single playoff victory.

Cincinnati’s fortunes were expected to be reversed by the arrival of Burrow. The standings left much to be desired…the Bengals won twice in Burrow’s ten starts…but reached heights unscaled by not only Cincinnati quarterbacks but legends of the entire league. Burrow became the first NFL freshman to throw for 300 yards in three consecutive games as well as the first to tally 400 passing yards, three passing scores, and a rushing six-pointer in a single contest.

This being the Bengals, however, the good times weren’t made to last. Burrow suffered a devastating injury during a November loss in Washington and was forced into an extensive rehab. Time will tell if Burrow returns to his dominant form that earned him the Heisman and a national title at LSU. But he found ways to turn his rehab process into a building block for his potentially game-changing career. The procedure, he believes, afforded him a chance to fix some of the flaws that perhaps hid beneath the glitz and glamour of his football career to date.

“With my knee, it felt the same. But I tweak my throwing motion every offseason and tweak my base. It was actually kind of beneficial for me, because I really started from the beginning and was able to refine some things that needed refining,” Burrow told Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer about his offseason. “I’d like to be more explosive. And I think I was really good in quick-game situations. On fourth down, we were really good. Empty, we were really good. But we need to be more explosive with play-action passes. All of our downfield passing needs to improve.”

In addition to losing Burrow, the Bengals also lost top rusher Joe Mixon to a foot injury. The next generation of Cincinnati weaponry has presented itself through Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, who united for 1,749 yards and 10 scores last season.

What’s New In Cincinnati? 

In addition to the high-profile arrival of receiver Ja’Marr Chase (chosen fifth in April), the Bengals had to spend their offseason accounting for the loss of several defensive starters, including pressure artist and Jet-to-be Carl Lawson…who, alas, will not partake in the reunion with Cincinnati due to injury.

Cincinnati signed Trey Hendrickson after a breakthrough season in New Orleans in the hopes of replacing Lawson’s pressure production. A revamped secondary welcomes depth options Ricardo Allen, Eli Apple, Chidobe Awuzie, and Mike Hilton, while Trae Waynes is a de facto newcomer after a pectoral injury cost him the entire 2020 season.

The Bengals’ revamped top defense looked good in the “take-it-with-a-grain-of-salt” summer sessions, allowing no points in two contests. Hendrickson was enthused by what he learned from defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, who prides versatility in his front seven.

“It’s looking very unique of anything I’ve ever played before,” Hendrickson said of the defense to Ben Baby of ESPN after his first practices with the team in June. “I think it’s playing to both the defense and what I can bring to the table.”

How to Beat Them

-Make Them Pray for Penei

One of the most shocking twists of the draft was the Bengals’ curious decision to leave accomplished Oregon blocker Penei Sewell on the board in favor of Chase, one of Burrow’s favorite targets during the Tigers’ national championship run.

There’s no doubt that Chase has the potential to be an elite, big-play talent and that his victorious chemistry with Burrow could come up big as the team tries to drag back to mere football relevancy. But the Bengals learned the hard way that they need to find further protection for Burrow. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to pounce (pun intended) on the draft’s most powerful blocker, especially with one with experience on the blindside? Even when taking his season-ending injury into account, Burrow was still tied for ninth in sacks allowed.

The Bengals partly made up for passing on Sewell with the signing of Riley Reiff (who replaces the ineffective former Giant Bobby Hart) but the left side is guarded by tackle Jonah Williams and guard Quinton Spain. Williams is a first-round pick from 2019 that has had trouble staying healthy while Spain takes on larger duties after losing a competition against Cody Ford and Brian Winters in Buffalo.

The Jets won’t have the services of Lawson but it’s going to be crucial to attack Burrow’s blindside and make the Bengals regret their fateful decision. It’ll be a particularly big chance for those lining up on the outside, ready to attack the already vulnerable Bengal backfield.

carl lawson, new york jets

-Do It For Carl

One of the Lawson-centric metrics Jets fans are probably sick of…or can’t get enough of…seeing is the fact that Lawson was one of only 11 defenders to reach double-figures (10.5) in the “Sacks Created” advanced category. That number becomes downright jaw-dropping when a look at the defensive rankings reveals that the Bengals earned a mere 17 sacks last season…the worst output in the league.

There would be, perhaps, no better tribute to Lawson than to make the Bengals realize just how much they miss Lawson. That’ll come down to the offensive line working against Cincinnati’s adjusted pass rush. The Bengals also drafted Texas’ Joseph Ossai in the third round (29 tackles over the last two seasons), but he’s starting the season on injured reserve and could be out the whole year. Much like the Bengals will look to take advantage of the Jets’ fledgling, developing secondary, the Jets must take advantage of a Queen City pass rush searching for clarity and momentum.

If anyone knows just how deadly a Cincinnati pass rush attack can be. In their last get-together in November 2019…when the Jets fell to an 0-11 Bengals squad…Sam Darnold was sacked four times and knocked down nine more: six times alone by Dunlap and one further time by Lawson himself. The Bengals’ visit with a new quarterback to protect is a big chance to show how far they’ve come.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: A Week 12 win is necessary with difficult upcoming schedule

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants are fresh off of a bye week, ready to face off against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 12. This is a critical game for the 3-7 Giants who sit one game back from first place in the NFC East. New York is still flying high off of their clutch victories against their rival Football Team and Eagles in Weeks 9 and 10, but need to continue their winning streak to stay alive in the playoff race.

The Cincinnati Bengals are 2-7-1 and lost last week to Washington. But for Cincinnati, it feelsN like they lost twice in one week. Not only did they fail to come out on top against Washington, but they also lost star rookie quarterback Joe Burrow to a season-ending injury. This means the Giants will face the Bengals and their backup quarterback Brandon Allen on Sunday.

This is the Giants’ most winnable game left on their schedule until Week 17. New York is in a prime position to pick up a momentum-building victory in Week 12 against a Bengals team starting a backup quarterback and possessing one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

This is a must-win game for the Giants. Not just because they are playing against an inferior opponent (that does not usually happen, especially when you are 3-7). But this is also a must-win game because there are not many winnable games left on the Giants’ schedule.

Who do the Giants have left?

After the Giants’ Week 12 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, they will enter a four-week period where they play some of the best teams in the NFL. The Giants will travel to Seattle in Week 13 to play the Super Bowl-contending Seahawks. Then, New York will host the Arizona Cardinals, another certain playoff team that could be a darkhorse Super Bowl candidate.

After facing off with those two NFC West teams, the Giants will face off against two more AFC North teams. In Week 15, the Giants will host the 7-3, red hot Cleveland Browns. Cleveland has looked like a legitimate playoff contender the last couple of weeks and is heating up for a playoff run. Then, in Week 16, the Giants are going to be on the road again as they play the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are a team that has struggled at times this season, but they are still 6-4 and playoff contenders. Entering the season, Baltimore was a Super Bowl contender.

That is four weeks of playoff teams for the Giants after this Bengals matchup. Getting one last win before facing these four superior squads is crucial for the Giants. Furthermore, beating a bruised and battered Bengals team is necessary for the 3-7 Giants. This will be their last favorable matchup until they play the imploding Cowboys in Week 17. Now is the time to really prove that the Giants are better than their record indicates.

New York Giants: Bengals safety Jessie Bates could be a problem for Giants’ offense in Week 12

The New York Giants are once again entering a “must-win” scenario in Week 12. After seeing their divisional landscape change drastically over the last two weeks, the Giants find themselves in the middle of a four-way race to win the NFC East. This could be the year that the Giants make their first playoff appearance since 2016, but they are going to have to pick up some clutch wins before the season’s end if they want to make that pipe dream a reality.

That road to the playoffs starts this week in Cincinnati. The Giants will take on the Joe Burrow-less Bengals after resting in their Week 11 bye. The Bengals lost Burrow in a loss to the Washington Football Team. Washington is now on a two-game win streak after beating Cincinnati last week and Dallas this week on Thanksgiving. Washington looks red hot, but, luckily, the Giants went 2-0 against the Football Team this season and have a tiebreaker over them in the playoff race because of that.

So after losing to Washington and watching their first-overall draft selection go down with a season-ending injury, the Bengals find themselves at rock bottom. Their offense looked pitiful without Burrow in the lineup last week. The Giants need to win this game to improve their record to 4-7, tie for first place in the division, and stay in the playoff race.

The Bengals’ offense might not leave the Giants with too much to worry about. Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon are out and possibly even Giovanni Bernard. But the Bengals’ defense, on the other hand, could cause some problems for the Giants’ offense. One player, in particular, stands out on Cincinnati’s defense: Jessie Bates III. Bates is having a career year and looks like one of the best safeties in the NFL. Bates could slow down a Giants offense that has begun to pick up the pace in recent weeks.

Jessie Bates III Stats and Highlights

Cincinnati Bengals third-year safety Jessie Bates has been a problem for opposing offenses in 2020. Bates is currently the highest-graded safety in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus as he is having a breakout career year.

Through ten games this season, Bates has been dominant on the backend for Cincy. Jessie has recorded 68 combined tackles, including 2 tackles for loss. But Bates’s run support is not what makes him so special. Jessie Bates is an ace in coverage and has shut down opposing passing attacks on a weekly basis.

Jessie Bates III already has three interceptions on the year and a career-high 13 passes defended. Bates has allowed only 12 completions on 26 targets in his coverage this season (46.2% completion percentage). He has allowed the opposition to gain only 115 yards and 2 touchdowns in his coverage this year for a quarterback rating of only 45.0.

Jessie Bates is a rangy safety that shuts down deep passing attacks:

The New York Giants might need to go with a more conservative passing game plan on Sunday as they look to avoid putting the ball in a situation where Jessie Bates III can make a play.

New York Giants: Giants are road favorites against the Bengals

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants have found themselves in a rare spot on this Monday morning – -they are road favorites against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Giants are five-point road favorites. This will be the first time since last season the Giants will be favorites heading into an away game. The team last season was the Washington Football Team in week 16, and they were one-point favorites.

Why are the Giants the favorites?

The New York Giants have emerged as favorites due to several reasons. Every Giants loss except for one has been by 10-points or fewer, and coming off a rest-week, they should be in a great position to emerge victorious in week 12.

Big Blue is gaining a few players back that were currently on the COVID-19 list, punter Riley Dixon and long snapper Casey Kreiter. The Giants are also gaining their second-round draft pick in Xavier McKinney. Oshane Ximines is coming back from injury as well. The Giants are healthy and now gaining a few big pieces back to the defense that has played pretty well as of late.

Bad news for the Cincinnati Bengals this morning, their star rookie quarterback Joe Burrow has torn his ACL and will be out for the rest of the season. If that is not enough, the Bengals will also not have their star running back, Joe Mixon that was placed on injured reserve with a foot injury.

When Burrow went down with an injury, the backup Ryan Finley came in and tried to win for Burrow. In the nicest way possible, Finley did not look impressive at all. Washington dominated Finley when he stepped in at quarterback.

For all you gamblers!

According to BetMGM, the Giants are early favorites. The Giants are five-point favorites against the Bengals. From what it seems like, the spread is only going to go up. The over/under opened at 42.5 points. From what I have heard, everyone is going to hammer the under. The money line is as follows, the Giants -233 and the Bengals +190.

From what it seems like the Giants are going to win by more than five points. If I were a bettor going to bet on this game, which I am, I would hammer the under and take the Giants as five-point favorites early before the spread keeps going up and up.

New York Giants: Root AFC North in Week 11, beat AFC North in Week 12

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants have fought hard and entered their name bac in the playoff race. With a statement victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 10, the Giants are just inches behind their rivals for the top spot in the NFC East. The Giants sit at 3-7, having beaten the Washington Football Team twice and the Philadelphia Eagles once. The Eagles are 3-5-1, playing one less game than the Giants and obtaining one win outside of the NFC East.

New York is trending upward; the Giants are 3-2 in their last five games. Philadelphia is trending downward; the Eagles are 2-3 in their last five games. This is setting up to be a close race to the finish line as both teams fight to win their lowly division.

Go Browns!

The New York Giants are on a bye this week. Philadelphia, however, has already had their bye week, and is stepping into a tough Week 11 contest on Sunday afternoon. Speaking of hot and cold teams, Philadelphia is travelling to Cleveland, Ohio to take on the Browns. The Browns have been surprising this year, improving to a 6-3 record (winning 3 of their last 5) after a shaky start to the season. Cleveland is hot, fortunately for the Giants, and unfortunately for the Eagles.

Boo Bengals(?)!

The Giants will rest up this week and prepare to take on their own AFC North opponent in Week 12. Giants fans will be rooting for Cleveland to whoop up on Philadelphia this week, cheering for an AFC North team that they will face later on this season. But, at the same time, the Giants will be preparing to take on an AFC North, the Cincinnati Bengals, next week.

This week, though, Giants fans have reason to root for Cincinnati. The Bengals are playing the Washington Football Team who sit at 2-7. With a win over the Bengals, Washington would improve their record to tie the Giants at 3-7. So fans might want to root for the Bengals this week. But their love and admiration for Cincinnnati is sure to run out quickly as the Giants will face the same team next week that they are rooting for this week.

In Week 12, the Giants will have a big opportunity ahead of themselves. From here on out, New York needs to win their winnable games and also needs to pull out an upset against in one of their games that is not considered as winnable. The Giants have a tough schedule ahead of them. The two weakest teams they will face are the Bengals (2-6-1, currently) next week and the Cowboys to close out the season. Both of those are must-win games as the Giants race the Eagles (and potentially the Washington Football Team) for first place in their division. The AFC North could actually decide the fate of the NFC East in 2020.