The age-old Halloween question applies to the Jets today at MetLife Stadium: Will the Green & White be tricked or treated?
The Jets would be tricked if they return to their home base for today's 1 p.m. ET kickoff against Cincinnati thinking they will automatically put behind them last week's loss at New England and their 1-5 record in Robert Saleh's first year as head coach.
For one thing, nothing's automatic in the NFL, not once extra points were made more challenging. For another, the Jets know that not only are they still building their foundation for offense, defense, special teams and culture at One Jets Drive, but they'll be doing it in their seventh game still minus key personnel parts.
QB Zach Wilson will miss his first full game with a knee injury, with third-year QB Mike White, after playing in his first NFL game and throwing his first pro pass and TD pass last week vs. the Patriots, getting his first pro start. White will be backed by veteran journeyman Josh Johnson, who hasn't played in a regular-season game since 2018. New/old trade acquisition Joe Flacco will watch his first game back with the Jets from the sideline.
Top WR Corey Davis hurt his hip in practice this week and will sit this one out, with the wideout corps being led by Jamison Crowder, Keelan Cole, Elijah Moore and Denzel Mims. Defensively, this could've been an important game for DL Bryce Huff but the young talent will miss this game with a back issue.
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And the Jets have to do battle with this resurgent 5-2 Bengals team that features the downfield connections of second-year QB Joe Burrow to rookie WR phenom Ja'Marr Chase, with Chase testing the Jets' young corners, Bryce Hall and Brandin Echols. Cincy features an offense that is 13th in the NFL yards/game, third in yards/play and seventh with 27.0 points/game, and a defense that is 10th in yards/game allowed, fourth in yards/play and fifth at 18.3 points/game allowed.
On the other hand, the Jets could be treated to a much needed victory over the visiting Stripes. The home team is getting back some key players, especially at their injury-beset linebacker position, with the return of "the general," C.J. Mosley, inactive for the Patriots with a sore hamstring, and the first game of the season for veteran LB Jarrad Davis, out since late August with an ankle sprain.
Historically, the Jets also can be optimistic about their recent record against Cincinnati — nine wins in their last 10 home games (although the loss came in the most recent meeting, the Bengals' 23-22 opening day win in 2016) — and perhaps in donning their all-black uniforms for the first time this season and the sixth time since they introduced their new unis and colors for the 2019 season. They're 2-3 in black/black with their last win by a point over visiting Miami in '19.
Of course, this historical trivia is just that — trivia. The Jets will need a team rising together from the 54-13 loss to the Pats to show that, in this next "most important game" of the Saleh era, they're ready, willing and able to take a big step forward.
"You don't have to be Superman, you don't have to make any plays that you're not being asked to make," Saleh explained for his defense. "You make your plays, do your job, do it to the best of your ability, and if we collectively do that, we'll play our best. That's all you can ask for.
"Then on the other side of the ball, offensively, everyone, just put out your best effort and do exactly what you're being asked to do, do it to the best of your ability. Mike's going to be fine and we're not asking anyone to do more than they need to because you should already be doing as much as you can, if that makes sense."
Here is the Jets' seven-player inactive list for today:
- QB Zach Wilson
- QB Joe Flacco
- RB Tevin Coleman
- DL Bryce Huff
- WR Corey Davis
- TE Trevon Wesco
- DL Jonathan Marshall
And this is the Bengals' six-man inactive list:
- WR Auden Tate
- HB Chris Evans
- CB Nick McCloud
- DE Darius Hodge
- DE Wyatt Ray
- DT Tyler Shelvin