The Legend of Seamless Joe takes on New York and the Jets of Broadway Joe Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12), in front of what promises to be a surly Halloween crowd as quarterback Joe Burrow tires to steer the 5-2 Bengals into history. If he comes, they will build it, and they are putting together one of those runs.
Only six Bengals teams (1975, 1976, 1988, 2005, 2013 and 2015) have had six wins heading into November. They all won at least 10 games and all but one made the playoffs. The Bengals.com Media Roundtable says the Bengals get that sixth win, but are going to wait and see how they beat the 1-5 Jets for what transpires next.
Long-time Jets beat man Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, the sports editor of Syracuse's The Daily Orange when Bengals radio voice Dan Hoard was the king of student station WAER-FM, doesn't see backup Jets quarterback Mike White keeping up with Burrow and his playmakers. Solomon Wilcots, the Bengals Super Bowl safety who co-hosts Sirius NFL Radio's The Opening Drive, thinks the Bengals dominate from the first drive to the last.
The Athletic's Jay Morrison, the archduke of analytics, goes to Vegas to compute it's going to be a Bengals win but not as big as you think while The Cincinnati Enquirer's Charlie Goldsmith believes the offensive descendants of '05 and '15 put up plenty of points to get to six wins.
Let's go around The Table. As always, former Bengals, visitors and the alphabet first.
After winning in Pittsburgh and winning in Baltimore and beating the Ravens in dramatic fashion in a game that wasn't even close, they've gone from being the hunter to the hunted. There is no doubt this Sunday's game against a 1-5 Jets team can be a trap game for them. However, they're led by a quarterback in Joe Burrow, a guy I heard say this week they're not satisfied. I think he sets the course of the mentality of this team and even though they've had some success, they understand they haven't arrived yet.
I think it's like when they went to Detroit to play. They didn't play down to the Lions' level. So I don't think they follow into a trap game mentality believing they just show up and beat the Jets. I don't think Joe Burrow is going to allow it to happen. He's just that kind of player. He's that kind of competitor. And with that, everyone follow his lead. He's that leader for this team.
THE EDGE: The Bengals are going to score 30 and I don't think the Jets will score even half of that. BENGALS, 31-15
The Bengals are just a better team. Hotter quarterback, hotter wide receiver, better defense. The only way I see the Jets making this a four-quarter game is if Cincinnati gets a little caught up in the rarified air of their big win last week. They've never been favored by more than eight points under Zac Taylor and this is the biggest road dog the Bengals have been since 2009. So this is a highly optimal situation for the Bengals. If they take the Jets lightly and look ahead to Cleveland, maybe it becomes a fourth-quarter game. But if they come out focused, I don't see how the Jets keep up with them.
The Jets defense has been very leaky the last couple of weeks. I'm sure they'll play a lot of zone and try to keep Ja'Marr Chase from beating them deep. It's going to be a very conservative soft zone to try and keep everything in front of them. Their pass rush has the potential to wreck the game, but what teams have been doing the last two weeks is a lot of screen passes, a lot of quick throws to really neutralize the front four. So I would expect that the Bengals will copycat that blueprint and just get rid of the ball quickly because if he holds the ball for three seconds or longer the Jets are going to get to him. They've got a pretty good front four.
Ultimately we'll know a lot early in the first quarter because the Jets have been outscored, 44-0, in the first quarter. It's a psychological thing for them. I think it's very much on their minds. If they can get through the first quarter and they can score, that would be fabulous for their psyches. Even just even-steven, that's almost a win for the Jets. But this game is very capable of getting away from them early.
THE EDGE: The crowd is going to be in a bad mood because of what happened in New England (Pats, 54-13) last week. I think they've lost patience in their re-building program already. If they get down early, they'll turn on them. It's Halloween, what the crowd will be wearing, who knows? BENGALS, 35-13
It's easy to forget the Bengals won only one road game in the last two years. It gives you an appreciation for the fact that they're on track to win so convincingly. It's a Jets offense that lacks explosiveness and a Bengals offense that's more explosive than since 2015 or maybe 2005. That's their company.
THE EDGE: This will be the Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd game. As well as Ja'Marr Chase has played, I think there's so much opportunity for this offense to respond to getting those two receivers the ball more. And I think they're good enough to do it. BENGALS, 34-10
It feels like they should win this one easily when you look at the players and matchups. But if you look at history and the teams that are double-digit favorites on the road, they don't cover very often. Especially when it's your third straight road game. I don't think it's a trap game because I don't think they'll look past them to the Browns. But it feels like this is going to be way closer than a lot of people think.
The Jets have a good defense and a horrible offense, but how many games do you see where you think a game like this is going to go and it doesn't? The Bengals know this well after being in a similar situation with the Jets two years ago. A rookie head coach. A team desperate to get wins for him. A young team that's not going to quit. They're not going to start looking ahead to next year. They're playing for jobs. I think the Bengals get the Jets' best shot.
If there's one area where the Jets are strong, it's that interior of their D-line and we've seen center Trey Hopkins and right guard Jackson Carman struggle some of the time. I think the Jets could find a way to get a push up the middle to disrupt Joe a little bit. It's not a trap game, but more of a let-down game. Sandwiched between two division games, as well. It's hard to be hitting on all cylinders back-to-back weeks. I just think the Jets are going to frustrate them a little bit and I don't think we'll see the high-flying Bengals circus act.
THE EDGE: I do think the Bengals get a good amount of points. I think some of them are going to be defensive driven with some short fields after some turnovers. The 20 points for the Jets might surprise because their offense is so bad, but I think they find a way to keep it close. BENGALS, 27-20
THE BOTTOM LINE
There's been some day dreaming going on since last week's 41-17 dismantling of the Ravens. Is this team truly the can't-beat 21st century combination of Carson Palmer's Bengals circa 2005 and the top ten Bengals defenses circa 2011-2013? The musing must stop, of course, by noon Sunday.
The Jets have handed the Bengals two of their rudest losses in history when they weren't looking, both in the playoffs (1982 and 2009), and there's the uneasiness of facing an anonymous quarterback making his first NFL start. Will Mike White be Tom Savage (loss in 2016) or Shaun Hill (loss in 2007)? Or will he be Brock Berlin (win in 2007) or Jimmy Clausen (win in 2010)?
The Jets may be 1-5, but they have a top front and active linebackers as C.J. Mosley returns with his two career interceptions and four tackles for loss against the Bengals. They're less than a month removed from winning in overtime in Nashville when they sacked the Titans seven times, so they're even more dangerous than the winless Lions.
But the thinking is the Jets' offensive woes are going to help the Bengals offense as much as the Burrow-Chase-Joe Mixon dynamic as they seek their first back-to-back 40-point games since Jeff Blake in 1999. Maybe this thing will be decided right away. The Jets have been blown out in the first quarter, 44-0, and that's been the Bengals' worst quarter with just 24 points, but they've held foes to 14.
It's the classic NFL mantra. Get rid of them in the first quarter. Don't let them hang around and it could be something special. The Bengals haven't won five straight on the road since 2008-2009 and haven't scored at least 34 points in three straight games since 2005.