The first NFL Sunday of 2016 will feature two playoff hopefuls squaring off when the Jets and Bengals clash in the Big Apple.
Cincinnati is coming off a 12-4 season and a fifth-straight playoff berth, while New York is coming off a 10-6 resurgence that saw them narrowly miss the postseason. Even though it's Week 1, this matchup could be a factor in the 2017 playoff picture.
Both clubs return much of their core from last year, so this should be one of, if not the best matchup of Week 1. Only the Cardinals vs Patriots (25) and Broncos vs Panthers (27) games feature more combined wins than Bengals vs Jets (22) in all Week 1 games.
Odds and Betting Trends
Despite the Bengals being the road team, they've been viewed as a slight favorite in this matchup ever since the regular season schedule was announced. However, the line for this game has remained small this offseason as the game inches closer and closer to kicking off.
The Bengals originally opened as a 1-point favorite way back in April, and they are now a 2.5-point favorite just days before kickoff. Here are some of the recent betting trends for both teams, courtesy of Odds Shark.
- Cincinnati is 12-3-2 ATS in its last 17 games
- Cincinnati is 12-5 SU in its last 17 games
- The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Cincinnati's last 11 games
- Cincinnati is 5-0 ATS in its last five games on the road
- Cincinnati is 6-2 SU in its last eight games on the road
- The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Cincinnati's last five games on the road
- Jets are 4-1-1 ATS in its last six games
- Jets are 5-1 SU in its last six games
- The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Jets' last five games
- Jets are 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games at home
- Jets are 5-1 SU in its last six games at home
- The total has gone OVER in 4 of NY Jets' last six games at home
- Jets is 4-1 ATS in its last five games when playing Cincinnati
- Jets is 9-2 SU in its last 11 games when playing Cincinnati
- The total has gone OVER in 5 of Jets' last seven games when playing Cincinnati
Expert Picks and Predictions
With the Jets having a loaded front seven that should be among the NFL's best at stopping the run, our friends at Gang Green Nation rightfully think this game will come down to how well their secondary does against the Bengals' receivers, particularly A.J. Green vs Darrelle Revis.
I want to see if a healthy Darrelle Revis can shut down A.J. Green. Revis was excellent last season, but he wasn't quite up to his normal ridiculous standards. Green has consistently been one of the best receivers in the NFL and rarely gets the attention he deserves. Without Eifert, Jones, or Sanu to target, Dalton will need Green to pick up the slack. While Bengals fans may be happy with LaFell and Boyd as options, Jets fans can attest to the unreliability of LaFell's hands. Boyd is a rookie playing in his first NFL game. The passing game is going to be reliant on Green and Green's production is going to be reliant on Revis' coverage.
Adding to that in a separate article, GGN notes how the Bengals find it hard to win if the ground game isn't working.
The stat of the week. Over the last two years the Bengals have a 22-11-1 record, including playoff games. Over that same time frame, when the Bengals are held under 100 yards rushing, they are 4-8. To the extent there is a good way to beat the Bengals, shutting down the running game certainly seems to fit the bill.
Fortunately for the Jets, this may be right up their alley. The Jets have ranked 6th and 3rd in the NFL, respectively, in 2014 and 2015 in yards per carry given up by the defense. The Bengals have ranked 10th and 13th, respectively, in 2014 and 2015 in yards per carry. The Jets should have the edge here, though the loss of Damon Harrison might put a damper on that. If the Jets can establish dominance in their run defense early and turn the Bengals into a one dimensional passing team, the stat of the week suggests the Jets will have a good chance of putting opening day into the win column.
The guys at Pro Football Focus thinks the Bengals' defensive line going against a bad Jets offensive line could be the deciding factor, but don't sleep on the Jets' loaded receiver corps taking advantage of some questionable secondary play on Cincinnati's end.
Cincinnati returns one of the more talented rosters coming into the 2016 season, while the Jets are still smarting after failing to close the deal on a wildcard berth a season ago. Up front, the Bengals are anchored by Geno Atkins (91.0) and Carlos Dunlap (82.4), which offer an advantage against a Jets’ offensive line featuring tackles Ryan Clady and Breno Giacomini (41.0), the former coming off a missed season, and the latter a season where he surrendered 54 total pressures in 661 pass-blocking snaps (fifth-most among NFL tackles). If Brandon Marshall (85.1) and Eric Decker (82.7) can take advantage of Dre Kirkpatrick (39.6) and a Bengals secondary with two new starters, however, the Jets may be able to push for the cover at home.
Prediction: Bengals win by 1
Here's a look at how all of the national experts are picking this game:
- Experts at CBS Sports are favoring the Bengals for the game, with five of the eight picking Cincinnati.
- Of the nine experts who picked from ESPN, seven went with Cincinnati.
- FOX Sports' five experts pick the Bengals will win.
- Iron Rank predicts the Jets to win by one point, even though they have Cincinnati having the advantage in nearly every offensive and defensive category.
- At SB Nation, six of the nine experts, plus the OddsShark Computer, are picking think the Bengals to win.
It's safe to say the Bengals are the clear favorite here, but not to the point where it would be a massive upset if the Jets won. Based on all of the picks this week from NFL Picks Watch, the Bengals are just the 12th-biggest favorite this week as of Friday with 67 percent of picks going their way.