The Cincinnati Bengals are hoping that Week 13 is the charm as they are still in search of their first win of the season against the New York Jets. Game time is at 1:00 EST on Sunday, December 1 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. Fans in local markets will be able to watch the game on CBS.
According to this week’s NFL betting odds, the Jets are favored by 3.5 points on the road. The over/under for the game is set at 41 points.
Don’t look now, but the Jets are just two games out of a playoff spot with five games left in the season. Adam Gase has taken a lot of heat this season, but he’s gotten a vote of confidence from the Jets brass and has led the team to three straight wins to bring them back to 4-7 on the season. Of course, it makes that embarrassing loss to the Dolphins a few weeks ago hurt even more. Otherwise, they could have won four in a row and be a game off the pace in the Wild Card race.
Technically, the Jets are still alive, taking advantage of an easy schedule with wins against the Giants, Redskins, and Raiders the last three weeks. They have a chance to keep that going the next two weeks with games against the Bengals and Dolphins. To have any chance at getting to the playoffs, New York will have to win those two games and then see where they’re at before their schedule gets a little more difficult late in the season.
Meanwhile, the Bengals are still in search of their first win in 2019. They are the only team left without a win, so the pressure is building on rookie head coach Zac Taylor to avoid a winless season. Things have gotten a little better in recent weeks, losing by seven points or less in consecutive games to the Raiders and Steelers. Unfortunately, competitive losses are the closest the Bengals have to something positive.
Taylor’s desperation for a win has led him to bench rookie quarterback Ryan Finley after three games and go back to Andy Dalton. Cincy’s remaining schedule also gives them a few opportunities to win a game or two. The Bengals play four of their last five games against losing teams, including two games with the Browns and one with the lowly Dolphins. Of course, this week’s home game against the Jets might be one of their best chances to get a win.
I know the Jets are in the midst of a hot streak, but I’m still not sure how much I trust them, especially on the road. They are just 1-5 on the road this season, including losses to the Jaguars and Dolphins. On the heels of three straight losses, I think they’re in the perfect spot for a letdown and perhaps take the Bengals lightly. With the spread at more than a field goal, I’m willing to take a chance on Cincinnati keeping it close enough to beat the spread and possibly getting their first win of the season.
Dalton moving back into the starting lineup gives the Bengals the best chance to win coming down the stretch. Finley was an utter disaster in his three games, but Dalton is a competent quarterback and should return to the starting lineup with something to prove. Lead receiver Tyler Boyd had trouble getting going with Finley at quarterback until last week and should feel more comfortable with Dalton back at quarterback.
The Cincinnati running game is also moving in the right direction. Joe Mixon ran for 79 yards last week against a strong Pittsburgh defense and has at least 66 yards rushing in his last four games. Admittedly, the Cincinnati offensive line has been problematic for both the running game and pass protection this season, but the Bengals are at least healthy upfront and should be in a better position with a more experienced quarterback.
On the other side of the ball, I’m still not sold on the New York offense. Even against weaker teams in recent weeks, the Jets still haven’t been able to establish running back Le’Veon Bell behind their terrible offensive line. They’re still leaving everything up to quarterback Sam Darnold. In fairness, Darnold has come on strong lately, but he’s still just a month removed from a dreadful appearance against the Dolphins, so I don’t have full trust in him playing well on the road.
Meanwhile, the Cincinnati defense has had a couple of decent performances the past two weeks against the Raiders and Steelers. The Bengals have developed more of a pass rush in those two games, which makes me think they can expose a weak New York offensive line. That should help them keep a third straight opponent under 20 points.
Again, I’ll admit that taking the Bengals isn’t the most obvious choice. But they beat the spread two weeks ago and tied it last week, so they’re moving in the right direction. Oddly enough, I think Dalton will serve as a spark this week and give the Bengals a chance to at least beat the spread against the Jets.