Jets at Bengals prediction: How to watch, stream, AFC battle, plus a look at key matchups
The Jets are riding a three-game winning streak, while the Bengals are still in search of their first victory
Sam Darnold surely had his doubters when he said that his team "still has a shot" at the playoffs after his Jets defeated the Giants in Week 10 to improve to 2-7 on the season. But after two more wins, Darnold's Jets are now two games back of the AFC's sixth seeded team with five games left in the regular season. While the odds are still stacked against them, the Jets are making things interesting while providing hope for a once disillusioned fan base.
While the Jets are making something out of a once-lost season, the Bengals are trying to avoid becoming the third team this century to not win a football game. Cincinnati has a two-game lead in , but the Bengals would like to have the top pick without the stink of an 0-16 season. That was made clear when Cincinnati announced earlier this week that they were going back to longtime starter Andy Dalton, who was benched midway through the season.
Before we break down Sunday's matchup, here's how you can follow the action in real time.
How to watch
He's no longer "seeing ghosts" and Darnold is having no issues helping the Jets find the end zone. After scoring over 20 points in just one of their first eight games, the Jets have scored 34 points in each of their last three games. During that span, Darnold has completed 65.2 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and just one interception while averaging 279.3 yards per game. Darnold had one of his best games of the season in last Sunday's 34-3 win over the Raiders, going 20-of-29 for 315 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Darnold has had success throwing the ball to receiver Jamison Crowder, running back Le'Veon Bell and tight end Ryan Griffin. Crowder leads the Jets in with 55 receptions and 580 receiving yards, while Bell has 51 catches for 368 yards through 11 games. Griffen leads the Jets with five touchdown receptions.
After a rough start to the season, the Jets' defense is starting to take shape, allowing just 20 points in their last two games. Safety Jamal Adams is the midst of another solid season, as he leads the team with 63 tackles, 6.5 sacks, six passes defensed and two forced fumbles. Linebacker Neville Hewitt leads the Jets with two interceptions, while fellow linebacker Jordan Jenkins is second on the team with five sacks.
The Bengals, despite their winless record, have shown signs of promise under first-year head coach Zac Taylor. More than half of Cincinnati's losses have come in one-score games and that includes their two most recent losses: a 17-10 defeat in Oakland and a 16-10 loss to the visiting Steelers. The Bengals' defense, led by defensive linemen Sam Hubbard, Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, linebacker Nick Vigil and safeties Jessie Bates and Shawn Williams, limited Baltimore's high scoring offense to 23 points back in Week 6 while putting the Bengals in position to upset the Ravens. The unit also made several key plays over the past two weeks that included Williams' interception during the first half of last Sunday's game against Pittsburgh.
Cincinnati's offense -- particularly the team's woes on the offensive line -- has been the main reason for its 0-11 season. The Bengals are currently 31st in the NFL in scoring, 30th in red zone efficiency and 28th in rushing. Cincinnati has received a nice season from receiver Tyler Boyd, who has emerged as the Bengals' No. 1 target this season following A.J. Green's injury. Through 11 games, Boyd, the team's second-round pick in the 2016 draft, has caught 63 passes for 699 yards. He has three 100-yard receiving efforts this season that includes his 101-yard, one-touchdown effort last Sunday against the Steelers.
Dalton will give the Bengals a shot in the arm, but I don't think the Bengals have enough offensive firepower to upset the Jets. While Bell and the Jets' running game has struggled this season, they should be able to have success against Cincinnati's 32nd ranked run defense. The Bengals keep it close (again) but will have to wait another week to get their first victory of the season.
Jets 21, Bengals 17
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