Two things that haven’t happened since the 2010 AFC Championship Game: A Jets postseason berth and a loss in the season opener.
Gang Green will look to end the former trend by first extending the latter with a sixth consecutive Week 1 victory, against the visiting Cincinnati Bengals.
Here’s a look at the keys to Sunday’s matchup.
The Bengals have a better-than-average defense, and most of the credit goes to their ability to contain opponents’ aerial attack. They ranked fifth in net yards allowed per pass attempt in 2015. Most of Cincinnati’s impressive unit from a year ago remains in place, so don’t expect a big drop-off at MetLife Stadium.
Ryan Fitzpatrick must be careful when targeting Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker on pass plays or he may fall victim to a Bengals defense that ranked third in interceptions in 2015.
As good as Cincinnati was against the pass last season, they were mediocre when combating opposing rushers. The Bengals ranked in the bottom third of rushing yards allowed per attempt.
Fortunately, the Jets invested in one of the best multitalented running backs of the last eight years in Matt Forte. No need to go light with their primary ball carrier, who was lightly used in the preseason, this week.
Beware the Red Rifle
Andy Dalton put together his finest season as a pro in 2015, tossing 25 touchdowns with just seven interceptions in 13 games for the Bengals.
Although he lost two of his favorite targets (Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu) in free agency and tight end Tyler Eifert is unlikely to be healthy enough to play Sunday, he still has multi-season All-Pro A.J. Green.
Jets star cornerback Darrelle Revis must stick to Green like glue to neutralize one of the best wideouts in football and limit Dalton’s options.