Keys for the New York Jets to pull off an upset over Cincinnati
The New York Jets are without their starting quarterback and enter Week 8 as 11.5-point underdogs at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. Pulling out a victory on this Halloween afternoon will be incredibly difficult.
If the Jets are going to shock the world, they must accomplish these three goals.
1. Shut down Trey Hendrickson
Signed over from New Orleans to replace Carl Lawson, Trey Hendrickson has been an excellent edge-rushing presence for Cincinnati. He is tied for fourth in the NFL with 6.5 sacks and ranks fifth with 36 total pressures.
Hendrickson lines up on the right side, so he will be the responsibility of left tackle George Fant.
Replacing Mekhi Becton in Week 2, Fant has shined in pass protection, allowing zero sacks and only six total pressures in five games on the blindside.
Fant needs to keep Hendrickson quiet for Mike White to have a chance of doing anything besides dumping the ball off. Cincinnati is 5-0 when Hendrickson gets at least five pressures and 0-2 when he gets fewer than five.
2. Pick on Eli Apple
Cincinnati’s secondary has been solid. The Bengals have allowed an opposing passer rating of 84.8, ranking fifth-best in the NFL.
Starting cornerback Eli Apple is the weak link holding Cincy back from ranking even higher.
Apple’s Pro Football Focus coverage grade of 48.3 ranks 78th out of 87 qualified cornerbacks. Missed tackles have been a prime issue for Apple – he has six missed tackles and a missed tackle rate of 22.2%, which ranks seventh-worst among corners.
New York needs to attack Apple in the screen game and make him tackle. Giving Elijah Moore some designed touches in Apple’s direction makes sense.
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3. Pressure Joe Burrow without blitzing
Joe Burrow has seen a larger-than-typical disparity between his under-pressure performance and clean-pocket performance.
Burrow ranks 26th out of 36 qualified quarterbacks with a passer rating of 62.2 when pressured. When throwing from a clean pocket, Burrow has a 123.0 passer rating, ranking sixth-best.
Getting pressure on Burrow is especially crucial compared to other quarterbacks – but the Jets have to do with it without blitzing.
Burrow is a blitz-slayer. He has a 136.9 passer rating against the blitz this year, throwing eight touchdowns and two interceptions while averaging 11.9 yards per attempt.
New York’s four-man rush must be dominant.
It is on the right side of Cincinnati’s offensive line where the Jets will have their best shot to do damage.
Right tackle Riley Reiff is beatable in pass protection. Reiff’s pass-blocking grade of 57.7 at PFF ranks 45th out of 60 qualified tackles.
Left defensive end John Franklin-Myers will duel with Reiff throughout the game. Franklin-Myers needs a bounceback performance after posting a season-low one pressure against New England last week.
Right guard Jackson Carman is also an enticing target. His 47.3 pass-blocking grade ranks 47th out of 59 qualified tackles.
Playing left defensive tackle, Sheldon Rankins will be the primary matchup for Carman. Rankins has 10 pressures from the left side of the defensive line this season. His average of 1.7 pressures per game from the left side ranks 14th-best among interior defensive linemen.
If the defensive linemen can win their battles and pressure Burrow on their own so the Jets can leave seven defenders in coverage, the second-year quarterback can be held in check.
But if the Jets fail to win their battles up front and/or decide to get blitz-heavy, Burrow will likely shred them.
Next Article: Jets-Bengals: Best prop bets to consider
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