Updated: 4:15 p.m.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - With the Patriots losing to a furious Houston comeback on the road Sunday afternoon, 34-27, the Bengals can go after that third seed in the AFC playoffs if they want to Sunday night here against the Jets.
With a win, the Bengals would finish 11-5 and secure the No. 3 seed and a Paul Brown Stadium Wild Card game next weekend against, potentially, AFC North rival Baltimore. With a loss, the Bengals would finish fourth for a PBS rematch next weekend against the Jets.
ESPN reported early Sunday afternoon that Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer won't play more than a quarter against the Jets, but that would be news to a team that as of Sunday morning had no idea what Marvin Lewis planned to do. Indications were that Palmer took the bulk of the snaps last week in practice and that Lewis is waiting to see if that third seed is a possibility.
Even though wide receiver Wes Welker was lost for the day with what looks to be a serious knee injury and quarterback Tom Brady was relieved on a day it was reported he has three broken ribs, New England took a 27-13 lead that got erased by a Houston club securing its first winning record in eight seasons of existence.
The attraction of the third seed is a Wild Card game against a rookie quarterback in the Jets' Mark Sanchez and a potential second-round game in San Diego, where the Bengals lost two weeks ago on a field goal with three seconds left, instead of in Indianapolis.
OCHO NAME CHANGE?: The cold must be finally getting to Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. The mercury has barely risen above 20 degrees since the team arrived here Saturday, but The Ocho has been tweeting it feels like 85 degrees. But on Sunday afternoon he messaged, "Coming tonight at 8:30, not Titanic but OCHO TANIC," in his showdown with Jets Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis.
The Ocho told NBC's Bob Costas, "If Revis were to shut me down, I will change my name back to Johnson. That's how confident I am. It's not happening," in an interview that appears Sunday on "Football Night in America" at 7 p.m.
It's the end of a rambunctious week for The Ocho. In his conference call with the New York media Wednesday, he said he was going to break out his Bengals fireman hat for his version of the Jets Fireman Ed.
"When I score, I'm going to sit on top of the goal post and then I'm going to quiet the stadium like he does," The Ocho said, "and I want everybody in the stadium to say, well they're not going to say the Bengals, but everybody will get the point of what I'm trying to do. I think it's good one. If I don't use the goal post, I'll get on top of one of my linemen's shoulders. I'm going out this season with a bang. I don't care what anybody says. That's the celebration of all celebrations. I'm going out with a bang."
BRUCE ON JERSEY: Bruce Coslet, the former Bengals head coach who also led the Jets in the first four seasons of the '90s, knows what is store for current Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis Sunday night in the last game ever at The Meadowlands.
"The wind was the determining factor there in December and January," said Coslet, shielded from Sunday night's forecasted gusts of up to 39 miles per hour in Naples, Fla. "If you get to the end of a quarter, you'd run out the clock so you could punt with the wind. Or if you were throwing into the wind, you wouldn't throw a pass longer than five yards all day. There was no way to get around it. It's cold. But it's not colder than anywhere else. The wind, though, does some weird things out there."
Coslet coached in 33 of the building's 501 games and while he enjoyed the fan support, he thought the logistics were difficult because the Jets practiced at a facility on Long Island.
"It was like having 16 road games," Coslet said. "You'd get on the bus and it was a two-and-a-half-hour ride with traffic and it was miserable going back because of the traffic. And it was always, 'Giants Stadium,' not 'Jets Stadium,' and they tried to change that by putting up green banners, but it wasn't the same. That made it tough."
Coslet wanted to know if Palmer was going to play and he thinks he should. He's not enamored about the Bengals playing the Jets again next week if they lose.
"That's incentive enough to win," he said. "The Jets have a very good defense, the Bengals do, too, but I just think any time you go out there you should try and win and go into the playoffs with some momentum. I'll be rooting for them tonight. I always do."
NOT SO MERRY MEADOWLANDS: Who better to delve into the Bengals Meadowlands Mystery than Bengals radio analyst Dave Lapham?
Lapham finished his pro career with two seasons on the offensive line of the New Jersey Generals in 1984 and 1985 when his home field was Giants Stadium. So he missed the first of the Bengals' 10 straight losses in The Meadowlands in 1984 (to the Jets), but has seen all the rest.
And Lapham played in both of the only two Bengals victories in New York, the last a 31-30 win in Shea Stadium on Sept. 13, 1981 that jump-started Cincinnati's run to the AFC title.
"The wind is brutal in December and January, but it's bad in February, March and April, too," said Lapham, who saw it in those months in the USFL. "You can't get a handle on it. It's always swirling and always changing. But why they haven't beaten the Jets there is curious. The Bengals had some teams then that never won on the road, but the Jets had some bad years, too."
The Bengals, 0-7 against the Jets and 0-3 against the Giants, didn't lose to a Jets team that finished with a winning record until their last three games in 2001, 2004 and 2008. All three games against the Giants (2008, 1997, and 1994) were against winning teams.
Lapham has fond memories of his road roommate in that last game at Shea. A week after being benched in the opener, quarterback Ken Anderson led the 31-30 victory over a stout Jets defense that would go on to allow just 18 points per game and lead New York to a 10-5-1 record. Anderson began his march to the NFL MVP award that day by hitting 22 of 34 passes for 252 yards against the infamous Jets "Sack Exchange" that racked up 66 sacks that season.
"That was a huge game for Kenny and a huge game for us," Lapham said. "I think it was good for him to play on the road at that point and to put up that many points against such a good defense was a great performance."
And he almost didn't make it. A lot of them nearly didn't make the kickoff because of the heavy traffic headed to the U.S. Open tennis tournament. It would be remembered for John McEnroe beating Bjorn Borg for his third title, but Lapham remembered it for one of the team buses and a couple of cabs getting hung up long enough to cut it quite close to kickoff.
"I remembered in the huddle Kenny breaking the ice out there on the first play," Lapham said. "He said, 'My primary receivers are going to be on the right side, so get ready to cover over there when I throw the interception.' That kind of set the tone. It was a fun place to play. I remember thinking, 'This is where the '69 Mets ran around.' "
SLANTS AND SCREENS: The Bengals are going to be the subject of some ESPN features the next week or so. The network plans a piece on the late Chris Henry on next Sunday morning's "Outside The Lines," and is going to run an NFL Fims look at defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and his family.
Zimmer was officially named Sunday as Fox analyst Terry Bradshaw's Assistant Coach of the Year.