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NFL Week 8: Jets look to avoid another beatdown at hands of hot Bengals

Mike White Jets
Mike White is expected to fill in for Zach Wilson this Sunday against the Bengals.
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

While initially looking at the New York Jets’ schedule prior to the start of the 2021 season, it was perceived that one of their best chances of winning would come in Week 8 against a Cincinnati Bengals team that won just four games last year. 

The Jets have so far lived up to their expectations as a struggling, rebuilding side having lost two straight; most recently an embarrassing 54-13 drubbing at the hands of the New England Patriots.

To make matters worse, rookie quarterback Zach Wilson is injured — so the rebuild goes on the back burner as its most important asset is on the shelf.

But the Bengals have exceeded all expectations as they lead the AFC North with a 5-2 record — already one more win than they had all of last season. 

A dynamic offense is being paced by an improving defense, which spells another nightmare in Week 8 for the lowly Jets.

Here’s what to watch for:

Who’s in at QB?

Wilson is out for two to four weeks due to a sprained PCL — which avoided the worst-case scenario after he was taken down by Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon. 

Mike White entered in relief to throw for 202 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions, which was good enough to earn the praise of Saleh. But the Jets went out on Monday and re-acquired Joe Flacco from the Philadelphia Eagles.

The move most likely is for quarterbacking depth should White — who had never appeared in a regular-season game until Sunday in New England — struggle.

That’s a very real possibility considering the Bengals’ defense is one of the stingier units in the NFL. They’ve allowed the fifth-fewest points in the league while their seven passing touchdowns allowed is tied for third-fewest.

Their play against the run isn’t too shabby, either, ranking eighth-best in the league. 

After all, this is a team that held the dynamic Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense to just 17 points last week.

 

Burrow Show

Joe Burrow Bengals Jets
Benglas quarterback Joe Burrow Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets’ pass defense is a middle-of-the-road unit — contrary to what the rest of the team is delivering as one of the worst collections in football this season. 

But Sunday at MetLife Stadium provides what could very well be their toughest test to date as they try to slow down the dynamic second-year quarterback in Cincinnati slinger Joe Burrow. 

The LSU product is coming off his finest game as a pro, passing for a career-high 416 yards — sixth-most in franchise history — and three touchdowns. Those numbers would have been even better had the Bengals not benched him for a majority of the fourth quarter after opening up such a huge lead. 

Concerns around an offensive line that prematurely ended his rookie year last season have subsided, and Burrow has hit a new level thanks to the drafting of wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who is running away with the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.

A teammate of Burrow’s in college, Chase and his quarterback haven’t missed a beat in the pros. Through seven games, he’s accrued 35 receptions for 754 receiving yards, which is the most in NFL history by a player through his first seven career games.

He was unstoppable against the Ravens, posting 201 yards and a touchdown on just eight receptions — continuing to build on his league lead average of 21.5 yards per catch.

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