Last Thanksgiving, the New York Jets gave the Cincinnati Bengals a thrashing in New York 26-10. Much has changed on both sidelines as the two teams prepare to meet again this Sunday in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
For the Bengals, the core of their offense has changed. Gone are Carson Palmer, Chad Ochocinco, and Terrell Owens. In their place, Andy Dalton is under center and rookie AJ Green and third year player Jerome Simpson will face the challenge of perhaps the best cornerback tandem in the NFL, Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.
When the Bengals have the ball Sunday, they'll be challenged by Rex Ryan's aggressive defense. Not only do they have lockdown corners in Revis and Cromartie, but a set of linebackers that can cover the entire field. What will be interesting to watch is just how complex Ryan allows his defense to be in week two of the preseason. The Jets are known for bringing blitz packages from all over the field. Will Andy Dalton be able to handle the multiple looks he will undoubtedly see from the Jets Sunday?
On the defensive side for Cincinnati, they face a solid Jets offensive line that can control the game on the ground as well as protect quarterback Mark Sanchez. Sanchez has proven in his two seasons in New York to be an increasingly effective game manager who can make all the necessary throws. The Bengal line, which didn't muster much of a rush against Detroit last week, must do more to make Sanchez uncomfortable in the pocket while also holding their own against the run.
The Bengal linebackers struggled in space last week. Their task won't get any easier Sunday. Dustin Keller is an outstanding tight end and favorite target for Sanchez. Running backs Ladainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene are also effective dual threats.
In the secondary, Leon Hall is coming off a poor performance against Calvin Johnson. He'll have either Santonio Holmes or new Jet Plaxico Burress to contend with Sunday. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer spent most of this week working with the secondary on tightening their coverage. How effective that work was will be evident early on Sunday.
The Jets are a bit banged up coming into the game. LB Bart Scott is questionable with a leg injury and nose guard Sione Pouha is also questionable with a knee. On offense, All-Pro center and former Buckeye Nick Mangold will probably play, though not much, recovering from a neck stinger suffered earlier this week. Plaxico Burress will make his first game appearance as a Jet coming off an ankle injury that sidelined him last week.
After being dominated by the Detroit Lions, the Bengals look to drastically improve this week. Doing that against the New York Jets who were on the cusp of the Super Bowl last season will be a tall task for Marvin Lewis and his crew.
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