Hall of mirrors

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VS.

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KEY MATCHUPS
OCTOBER 21, 2007

The guy who scheduled this one for 4 p.m. may be back to getting coffee for the suits, but who knew that the playoff Jets and the contending Bengals would have combined for just two wins at Word Series time?

They should be playing this one in a hall of mirrors. As much as the Bengals defense has struggled, so has the Jets offense. As brutal as the Bengals offense has been converting third downs, the Jets defense has been worse getting off the field.

The Bengals.com roundtable is picking the Bengals. At home helps.

"But they've got the much better quarterback, too," says The Guru, a former top team football executive in the NFL. "I know they're banged up, but they should beat the Jets. They have a better team on paper. They've obviously got issues. You can't let (Chiefs quarterback) Damon Huard beat you. But they should be able to win this week."

The Chief, an NFL personnel director not in the Bengals division, Joe Willie Namaths it for the Bengals.

"I guarantee the Bengals will win because the Jets can't score," The Chief says. "I throw caution to the wind because once upon a time nobody thought Cleveland could score. In order to rebound, the Bengals absolutely have to win this game."

WHEN THE BENGALS HAVE THE BALL
Bengals HC Marvin Lewis vs. Jets head coach Eric Mangini

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Lewis

"I just think the Bengals have really been hurt by injuries and they haven't been good enough to overcome it," The Guru says. "Why do teams like Pittsburgh and Indianapolis go into games missing four and five starters and still win? It's one of those things that make them elite teams. But once the (Bengals) get back Chris Henry, get the offensive line settled, and get back a linebacker or two, they should be able to put something together."

Ghiaciuc was supposed to help that with his return in Kansas City last week and, really, the Bengals did run it well enough stat-wise for more than four yards per carry and running back Kenny Watson went for more than five yards per rush. The problem is the failure on third down limited them to just 18 attempts.

So the Bengals would like their very large guards to get a body on Vilma in the running game.

"Allen is a good player, but if (Jones) isn't hurt then he's got to play better because he's a better player than that if he's healthy," he says. "You can't win getting play like that from the left tackle."

Also like Hall, Revis is a physical guy, but other guys have missed tackles in the secondary. Last week Eagles wide receiver Kevin Curtis took a seven-yard hitch past cornerback Andre Dyson for a 75-yard touchdown.

"To me this is a huge game for the Bengals front seven because the Jets are already so one-dimensional and they really should keep them that way," The Scout says.

The perimeter people could be big this week for the Bengals containing Pennington. Last week against the Eagles the Jets tried to move him out of the pocket with some roll-out passing. But they were only 11-of-21 passing and that's why people are screaming for the vertically-inclined Kellen Clemens.

But since Pennington can't really chuck it, the Jets will prod the middle of the field and although Geathers is fluid and fast in pass coverage, he's still learning. Here's a guy who has played more quarterback (how did that look in high school?) than backer, and the Bengals think they've got a guy who can do a little bit of everything since they will keep him with his hand on the ground on third down.

It's going to be a good test for Hall's willingness to mix it up physically because Cotchery can take it after the catch. His 93 yards after the catch that day was the most since Keyshawn Johnson took the damn ball for 100 by itself after the catch against the Pats in '99. Last season Cotchery scored twice on 70-plus runs after the catch against New England.

The Bengals look to be more settled on covering kicks than earlier in the year, when Cribbs burned them for an 85-yarder in the second week. But it still pits the NFL's best drive start (the Jets' 33.1) against the NFL's worst (the Bengals' 32.3).

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