8:20 PM ET, November 25, 2010
MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
The New York Jets certainly have made things tough on themselves lately against inferior opponents, though their wins sure have been exciting.
They want a much easier time Thanksgiving night before the schedule gets a lot more daunting.
New York shares the league's best record but hasn't had a comfortable victory since early October, something it should have a good chance to achieve against a visiting Cincinnati Bengals team which hasn't won since September.
"We're cutting it awfully close," quarterback Mark Sanchez said. "I don't think anybody has any finger nails left if they're a Jets fan."
All three of New York's games this month have gone down to the wire even though those opponents have a combined 9-21 record. The Jets (8-2) managed to win them all, including the first two in overtime before a 30-27 victory over Houston on Sunday.
"We need to put these games to bed a little earlier," linebacker Jason Taylor said.
New York needed a field goal as time ran out in regulation before winning 23-20 at Detroit on Nov. 7, a week before Sanchez's 37-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes with 14 seconds left in overtime resulted in a 26-20 win in Cleveland.
That same connection was the difference Sunday, with Sanchez finding Holmes for a six-yard TD with 10 seconds remaining after the Jets blew a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter. Their last win that wasn't decided in the final minutes was 38-14 over Buffalo on Oct. 3.
"Right now, things are a little bit shaky with the things on the field," cornerback Darrelle Revis said. "The crazy thing about it is we're 8-2 and we still believe we haven't played our best football."
They might not need to Thursday, either.
Cincinnati (2-8) has lost seven in a row since beating Carolina on Sept. 26, allowing an average of 29.6 points during the slide. The Bengals' run defense may be the biggest culprit of the past two months, surrendering 124.1 yards per game and nine rushing touchdowns, and now faces New York's fourth-ranked rushing attack (145.9 ypg).
The competition stiffens greatly after this week for the Jets, who get a 10-day break before visiting AFC East co-leader New England in a Monday night matchup to close Week 13. That showdown precedes a meeting with archrival Miami and road games against first-place teams Pittsburgh and Chicago.
Maybe the biggest plus of the Jets' unsightly three-game win streak is Sanchez and the offense coming up big in key moments. Their vaunted defense has been a bit vulnerable lately, so New York has learned it can also win games via the offense -- and a once shaky passing game.
Sanchez has thrown for 950 yards and six TDs in the last three games, and the offense totaled more than 400 yards in each.
"The fact we came back might be better for our team in the long run," coach Rex Ryan said.
Ryan's defense has allowed 40 points in the fourth quarter of the last four games and has forced a total of three turnovers. The Jets forced 14 in their first seven games.
Revis, though, continues to perform like an All-Pro, and his latest test will be against Terrell Owens.
This month, Revis has limited Andre Johnson to four catches for 32 yards and Calvin Johnson to one reception for 13 yards. Owens has eight touchdowns in the last seven games, but he didn't get one in two matchups against Revis last season while with Buffalo as he totaled six catches for 44 yards.
Owens scored in the first half last week as the Bengals built a 17-point lead, but they were outscored 35-0 in the second half in a 49-31 home loss to the Bills.
"We may go 2-14 at the rate we're playing," Owens said. "We're not good, period."
Cincinnati has lost eight of nine versus the Jets and ended last season by losing to them twice, including 24-14 at home in the playoffs.
"I hope we don't take the disappointment (from Sunday) into the short week, into the game against the Jets," Owens said. "If not, they may put 49-plus on us. They have a great defense. Their offense is explosive. And if we come with the performance that we played with (against Buffalo), it's over. It's lights out."
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1. Get something going on the ground: Cincinnati's running game barely resembles last year's version. It is a major problem and has forced the play calling to be more pass-heavy, which the Bengals' offensive line is not well equipped to handle. It won't get any easier this week against New York. The Bengals have had no big-play ability from their rushing attack, but Cedric Benson averaged 5 yards per carry en route to rushing for 124 yards last week. Maybe that is a good sign of things to come.
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|Avg Points Allowed||26.2||17.0|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||CIN|
|Rush Yds Allowed||CIN|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|NY Jets leads 6-1|
|Jan 9, 2010||CIN 14, NYJ 24|
|Jan 3, 2010||CIN 0, @NYJ 37|
|Oct 12, 2008||CIN 14, @NYJ 26|
|Oct 21, 2007||CIN 38, NYJ 31|
|Sep 12, 2004||CIN 24, @NYJ 31|
|Dec 16, 2001||CIN 14, @NYJ 15|