Needing a spark, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor is going back to quarterback Andy Dalton to start in Week 13 against the New York Jets, who have won three in a row.
"We just want to win," Taylor said. "That veteran presence he has will certainly be helpful through all the things we've been experiencing so far on offense. He has great experience. We're facing a challenging coordinator this week who has a lot of experience in this league at really challenging guys. Andy will help us prepare for that. We've always known Andy is a great quarterback. We made the change for the reasons we needed to. It's time to give him another opportunity."
With the Bengals still seeking win No. 1 in 2019 and the Jets trying to claw back into the playoff picture, here are the three things to watch:
1. Handling the Pressure – Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams runs an aggressive, attacking style of defense that boasts the NFL's best against the run. The Jets have allowed only one 100-yard rusher this season. In fact, Gang Green held opponents to 145 rushing yards and 2.5 per carry in the last three contests.
One area to keep an eye on is how Williams utilizes Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams in different blitz packages. Adams has totaled six and a half sacks in the past four games. The Jets have 17 as a team in that time. They had nine in the previous seven games.
It will be the toughest challenge to date for the Bengals run game, which in the last four games has been much improved. The Bengals have rushed for more yards in the last four contests (520) than in the first seven games of the season (372). The improved run game should help not only get first downs, but help in play action, an area Dalton has excelled in over the years.
2. Put Up The Points – Other than the Baltimore Ravens, no other offense has been hotter recently than the Jets. New York scored 102 points in their past three games after only scoring 96 in the first eight. Not since Brett Favre was the Jets quarterback in 2008 has New York scored 34 points in three consecutive games. The sparkplug to the recent three-game offensive outburst runs through current quarterback Sam Darnold who has thrown for 838 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception.
The Bengals are still seeking their breakout game on offense and are hopeful Dalton's return will provide that spark. Dalton's decision making and ability to get the ball out quickly are positives against the Jets defense that likes to mix up its looks and bring pressure from all areas of the field. If the Bengals can find a way to generate more than two or three chunk plays, they'll be well on their way to their best offensive game of 2019.
3. Pass Protection – The Bengals have found their pass rush generating at least three sacks in each of the previous two games. The improved defensive line play has also helped generate turnovers. The Bengals D has forced four turnovers in the previous three games with two of those coming in the red zone. Opportunities to generate turnovers will be available thanks to a Jets offensive line that has allowed the third-most sacks this season (42).
On the other sideline, Jets head coach Adam Gase said the defensive players have started to mesh well together. The group has forced turnovers (three forced fumbles and two interceptions) and scored two defensive touchdowns in the last three games.
While last week's game against Pittsburgh was not the best in terms of pass protection, the Bengals offensive line had some nice moments providing enough time to throw.
Kickoff: 1 p.m. Eastern.
Television: The game will air on CBS-TV. In Cincinnati, it will be carried by WKRC-TV (Ch. 12). Broadcasters are Spero Dedes (play-by-play) and Adam Archuleta (analyst).
Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst).