The Cincinnati Bengals are rolling into the Meadowlands to face the New York Jets. They’ve been on the road for the past two weeks, but they’re currently playing their best football, even though they’ll tell you they haven’t reached their potential just yet.
No one is expecting the Bengals to drop this game, and they shouldn’t. The Bengals won’t have to do much to win big for the third week in a row, but it’d be refreshing if a few players were to return to their dominant ways against a weak opponent.
Here are the five players and matchups we’re watching today in MetLife Stadium.
An ankle injury combined with the offense unleashing the passing game has made Mixon a bit of an afterthought in recent weeks. Thankfully, his injury seems to be a thing of the past, as he’s not appeared on any injury report lately. The Jets’ defense is also equally bad against the run as they are against the pass, so if this is going to be the easy win it’s projected to be for Cincinnati, expect Mixon to run out the clock and put up decent numbers while doing so.
Matchup to watch: C.J. Mosley
The former Ravens linebacker may not be 100% for this game. Mosley is listed as questionable with a hamstring, but should play after practicing fully on Friday. He’s been a major liability for New York when he’s been healthy, though. He’s one of Pro Football Focus’ 10-lowest graded linebackers against the run this year.
It’s fair to want more from the Bengals’ left tackle. After two dominant weeks against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Green Bay Packers, Williams had his fair share of struggles in wins over the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens. The Jets have one of the blitz-happiest defenses in the NFL, so this won’t be a cake walk for the Bengals’ offensive line. Regardless, Williams could use a bounce-back game.
Matchup to watch: Shaq Lawson
While John Franklin-Myers squares off vs. Riley Reiff on the other side of the formation, Williams will have to handle Lawson for most of the day. Lawson has barely done anything as a pass-rusher this season, and with no Bryce Huff today, he’ll have to conjure up some pressure against Williams.
Khalid Kareem and Cam Sample
Now that Kareem is healthy, how will the defense rotate him in the defensive line? In his one preseason game, he was used exclusively at left defensive end, which is where Sample has been playing behind Sam Hubbard this season. Will Kareem take Sample’s snaps immediately, or will they ease the second-year player back into the rotation? Sample has averaged just over 25 snaps per game this year.
Matchup to watch: Morgan Moses
New York’s right tackle has been shaky to say the least. Moses is currently in the bottom third of all starting tackles in pass blocking efficiency for true pass sets. Erratic quarterback play may have something to do with the Jets’ pass blocking production, but there’s damning evidence of the contrary through seven weeks.
Jessie Bates III
We’re not really talking about it, but Bates has somewhat underwhelmed through seven weeks. He’s been very useful against the run, but he’s not making as many plays in coverage. For a guy who wants to be paid like the best safety in the game, he’s not exactly putting the best film out there right now. Ironically, this has not affected the Bengals’ overall effectiveness on defense. They’re thriving with Bates being a cog in the machine instead of the Superman he was to them last year. But he has a perfect chance to re-establish himself this week.
Matchup to watch: Mike White
It’s unlikely the Bengals face a more ill-equipped quarterback this year. No one’s expecting much from White because, well, he’s Mike White, but he’s also in a terrible situation. He’ll have to operate behind the same o-line that Zach Wilson got injured behind against a ferocious Bengals’ pass rush. He’s liable to toss up some prayer balls. It’d be welcoming to see Bates get his first interception(s) of the year from them.