Throughout the season, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg and Randy Lange will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: Will the Jets find first-quarter fortune against the Bengals?
EA: The early scoring drought ends Sunday. It won't be easy though because the Bengals have limited teams to 14 points during their impressive 5-2 start. That's the third-best total in the NFL. And for all the talk about Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase and the Bengals prolific offense, the Cincy defense ranks No. 4 in yards per play (5.14) and No. 6 in rush yards per play (3.99). And a year after racking up 17 sacks in 16 games, the Bengals have 19 sacks. So those numbers appear daunting for a team that is trying to find its way with a quarterback making his first NFL start in Mike White. But the offense actually took strides last week, first with Zach Wilson converting on three third-down passes before Matt Ammendola missed a 48-yard field goal wide right in the first quarter of the blowout loss at New England. And after Wilson went down with an injury, White not only threw a TD pass on his first professional attempt, but he moved the Jets to the NE 28 on the next possession. After running two plays before halftime, White led a 77-yard drive that culminated on Elijah Moore's first NFL TD. He then got the Jets to the NE 35 before misfiring to TE Ryan Griffin. The Jets moved the ball with consistency and White took what was there, keeping the Green & White on schedule, as evidenced by the production of RBs Michael Carter and Ty Johnson in the pass game. You'll see points in the first quarter on Sunday from the home squad, who will be amped up in their stealth black uniforms and eager to make amends in front of their fans.
EG: It'll be challenging, but I'm cautiously optimistic. I think the team will respond well after last weekend's game at New England. For the offense, Mike White showed he could operate the offense effectively and efficiently despite throwing two interceptions. The Green & White had an opportunity last weekend to put up first-quarter points but K Matt Ammendola misfired on a field-goal attempt. The offense is knocking on the door in that regard, but the Bengals' defense has been playing at a high level. Cincinnati is the only team in the NFL to hold its opponents to 25 or fewer points in each of their games. They're improved at every level of defense, starting up front with DE Trey Hendrickson (6.5 sacks), who the team signed in free agency. I'm interested to see how the 5-2 Bengals will respond after thumping the Ravens, their division rival, 42-17. Look for the Jets to try and run the ball against the Bengals to help White out, but Cincy ranks No. 7 in rush defense (94 avg). Plus, the stealth black uniforms could provide a little extra spark all around.
RL: I thought the Jets young but potentially potent offense would have been speeding out of the gate before this, so I can't predict first-quarter fortune against Cincinnati. But what I would suggest is that another opening-drive three-and-out or another opening-quarter shutout, while not ideal, doesn't have to be a deal-killer. The Jets need to have practiced and need to play not as 30-minute men or 45-minute men but as 60-minute men, regardless of the first-quarter numbers. The Bengals are a middle-of-the-pack first-half team through this season's first seven weeks, outscoring opponents in the first 30 minutes of games by 65-61. Then the Stripes turn it on in the final 30 by 121-64. Cincy also has a minus-3 turnover margin and is tied for third in the NFL with 8 interceptions thrown. (The Jets, of course, are first with 11 INTs.) If the Green & White defense can get that first pick of the season, it could help them weather another low-scoring first-half drought or a second-half shootout with the visitors from the AFC North.