Three weeks ago, the New York Jets won on "Monday Night Football' as double-digit underdogs. Last Sunday, though, may have been their most impressive victory of the 2013 season.
At MetLife Stadium, the Jets beat the New England Patriots in their final matchup of the regular season. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith outplayed Tom Brady, who was limited to 22 of 46 passing, no touchdowns and one interception. Following a controversial penalty call on the Patriots, Nick Folk kicked the game-winning field goal to give the Jets a 30-27 win in overtime.
Likewise, the Cincinnati Bengals had one of their best victories in Week Seven. They traveled to Detroit and beat the Lions, 27-24. Former Jets kicker Mike Nugent kicked a 54-yard field goal to end the game with no time left on the clock.
In Week Eight, both teams will meet up in Cincinnati in what could end up being the best game on the schedule. It’s just one of two contests in which both teams have winning records. The Bengals' two-game lead in the division is the largest in the NFL, while the Jets currently have the second wild card spot in the AFC.
Both teams have young quarterbacks who were named starters after being taken in the second round. In his first season, Smith has had an inconsistent season. At times, he’s shown that he has the ability to be the best quarterback in this year’s draft, like when he had a 147.7 passer rating in an upset at Atlanta. However, he continues to make rookie mistakes, leading the AFC with 11 interceptions.
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"I definitely want to continue to play consistently, and that's something I have been working extremely hard at," Smith said. "I've been beating myself over it because I know with that consistency at the quarterback (position), it usually leads to success with the team."
In his third year, Andy Dalton is playing better than ever. His 93.9 passer rating and 65.9 completion percentage are both career highs. He’s also on pace to surpass the 4,000-yard mark for the first time.
Dalton threw for a combined total of 709 yards in his last two games, which was in large part due to the play of A.J. Green. The wide receiver ranks fourth in the NFL in receiving yards, and is clearly Dalton’s favorite option. No quarterback has targeted a receiver more in 2013.
The Jets have been above-average against the pass, but they’ve allowed their opponents’ receivers to have some big games. Vincent Jackson went for 154 yards, Nate Washington recorded 104 yards, and Rob Gronkowski caught eight passes for 114 yards in his return. New York’s No.1 cornerback, Antonio Cromartie, will be called upon to contain Green.
"I think he's seen everything, I'm just a taller and more physical guy, I think that's the only thing," Cromartie said Thursday. "I think we're almost the same height so that's the only difference that's going to be out there. He's not facing a 5-11, 6-0 DB, he's facing a 6-2.5, 6-3 DB."
The Jets have dominated the Bengals in recent years, winning nine of the last 10 meetings. In 2009, they beat Cincinnati in Week 17 to make the playoffs, and then defeated them the following week in the wild-card round.
Las Vegas Betting Odds: Cincinnati favored by 6.5 points
Over-Under: 41.5 points
Where To Watch Online: NFL Sunday Ticket Max
Kickoff Time: 4:05 PM Eastern Time
TV Channel: CBS
Prediction: Cincinnati 20, New York 17