The Bengals tackles have their hands full with both defensive ends of the New York Jets top 5 ranked unit. Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson have been outstanding this season. They’re one of the better defensive lines the Bengals are going to see all season. This is a defense that held Tom Brady of the New England Patriots to 1 of 12 on third down.
One might argue they did a better job shutting down Tom Brady than the Bengals did earlier in the season. That’s how good this defense is. I think that matchup is going to be pivotal simply because the Bengals have to be able to run the ball and have manageable third downs and they’ve got to be able to protect and both these guys are monsters against the run and they’re equally good at getting pressure on the quarterback.
I believe the Bengals tackles will contain Wilkerson and Richardson hopefully, with Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith. So this defense is the same defense they saw a couple of weeks ago in Buffalo. They’re identical. Its different personnel, but it’s identical in terms of scheme. There won’t be any trickery going on. I think the Bengals are well locked in on what the Jets want to do defensively.
Another advantage the Bengals have in my mind is going against a rookie quarterback on the road and Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has been so much better in terms of his overall ball distribution and spreading it around and not forcing it into A.J. Green and allowing the other weapons to play at a really high level. I just think if the Bengals offense can get points on the board it forces Geno to be one dimensional and to make plays throwing the ball and that’s where the Bengals defensive front has to win.
Let’s face it; there are some question marks on the back end for the Bengals with the loss of Leon Hall. The front seven for the Bengals really has to carry this team until they can get things figured out in the secondary.
To me, when you have a veteran group like the Bengals defense, when you have an eight man rotation on your defensive line that the Bengals are putting out there, when you have the NFL’s leading tackler in Vontaze Burfict going against a rookie quarterback and you’re at home, there’s no doubt I’m giving the Bengals the edge there.
Dalton gets a national game here on Thursday against Miami (NFL Network 8:25pm) and they have a really good defense and it’s on the road. He’s got to continue this little streak. But we know Andy did it last year. He went on a run where they won seven of their last eight games and beat Pittsburgh on the road. This is who Andy is. We have to understand in the class of quarterbacks 25 years or younger, this guy wins as much as any of them. I’m talking Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck. He wins as much as any of them. That’s the No. 1 deal. He wins football games. He’s also growing. He’s three years into the league. We’ve seen some growth and maturity from Dalton. But the growth chart is going to show some regression at times and we’ve seen that. But I like where he’s at and what he’s doing because he wins football games.
PREDICTION: Bengals 21-16. This game will be close, if they can protect Dalton and he himself don’t turn the ball over they will win this game.
TV: 4:05pm on CBS, radio: 700WLW