The New York Jets carry an impressive, division-leading 8-2 record with them when they return home this Thanksgiving to face the struggling Cincinatti Bengals (2-8) at the Meadowlands. This is the third game of the holiday involving teams with opposite win-loss records, and the NFL Network will carry the game starting at 8:20 PM EST.
The Bengals fell to the 8-loss mark after allowing the Buffalo Bills their second win of the season last week in a second-half collapse. The offense has been unimpressive for the Bengals this year even after acquiring Terrell Owens to complement Chad Ochocinco in the passing game. Carson Palmer's incredible stats have not translated so far into victories for this team that seems to forever be on the cusp of success but unable to seize it so far this season.
The Jets made an even better pickup this year in nailing down a contract with the always dangerous LaDainian Tomlinson, who already has 692 yards and 5 touchdowns on 153 carries. Tomlinson has been a perfect weapon to accentuate the burgeoning talent of Mark Sanchez, the Jets' talented young quarterback. Sanchez has 15 touchdowns through the air with over 2300 yards, and the Bengals will be without some of their best defensive players this week.
The injury report lists Bengals Safety Roy Williams out with a head injury, Defensive End Antwan Odom dealing with a wrist injury keeping him out of the lineup, Safety Chris Crocker sitting with a knee issue, and Defensive Tackle Tank Johnson out of commission with a knee problem. The Jets may be missing Jerricho Cotchery in the receiving corps, but they have multiple deep threats who have done well to step up and fill the void left by the star receiver's absence. Also listed as out this week for the Jets will be Cornerback Dwight Lowery with a concussion.
The Bengals may be the team most likely to score an upset on Thanksgiving, though it's not nearly a safe bet at this point. The fact is the Bengals have had a lot of great, close games this year. Owens and Ochocinco have a combined 1,485 yards in receptions and 12 touchdowns. Palmer's 2600-plus yards and 18 touchdowns show this is really one of the best teams in the league with the worst record. The over-riding issue for the Bengals is the running game. Only twice this year has the team's leading rusher been able to amass more than a hundred yards in a game. Cedric Benson did it in a three-point loss to the Buccaneers in Week 5 (144 yards) and a 49-31 loss last week against the Buffalo Bills (124 yards).
Meanwhile, the Jets lost to only the Ravens and the Packers so far this year. These hiccup losses look more like flukes when considering the margins in each game. Despite going down in the Green Bay game by a score of 9-0, the Jets defense allowed no touchdowns. The Ravens game to lead off the year was a true wakeup call despite that deficit being only one point at the end of the day (10-9).
Close wins against perennial under-performing teams like the Cleveland Browns (26-20) and Detroit Lions (23-20) show this Jets team is capable of a catastrophe on Thursday if it comes down to the wire. However, last Sunday's win by a field goal over the Houston Texans also proved the Jets can win the close games against formidable teams as well. Poise under pressure seems to be Quarterback Mark Sanchez's motto, so he should continue to get the job done when it counts.
Look for the Jets to fly to new heights on Thanksgiving and hand the Bengals a tough loss. This Jets squad is one that is full of talented players who learn from their mistakes and improve each week as a result. New York should seal the deal by at least a one-touchdown margin to keep pace with the Patriots in the event the Pats don't self destruct earlier in the day against the same Lions the Jets struggled with in week 9.
Thanks to our friends at BetGuardian for this article.