When the Cincinnati Bengals battle the Jets, MetLife Stadium will be immersed in emotion. Memories of 9/11 will give the game a primetime feel.
There will be no more waiting and biting of fingernails. Week 1 of the NFL season has arrived. No matter what else is on the marquee, the Bengals will be playing the game of the day. When Cincinnati invades Metlife Stadium to tangle with the New York Jets, the contest will be a sea of emotions. Though the battle has a 1p.m. start, it will definitely have a primetime feel.
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Lately, the Bengals have been road warriors. They’ve won their last two openers on the road but have their hands full with the Jets. They’ll have to deal with the hostile environment that comes with being in enemy territory. The afternoon game will be played on the anniversary of 9/11. Those in attendance and fans watching on devices and televisions will remember that day. New York and the world will be tuned in.
Now, doesn’t that sound like a primetime game?
Nevermind the fact that the Bengals are drastically better in the daytime. This game should be a raw slugfest that will prove how well the Orange and Black are prepared for adversity. Bengals faithful won’t see Vontaze Burfict flying around at linebacker and Tyler Eifert won’t be dressed for action either. A major test will be how well the defense performs without one of its leaders. Vincent Rey held the unit together last year (while Burfict recovered from surgery). This will be his chance to shine again.
Another hurdle the Bengals have to overcome is the mental game. New York holds a 17-8 edge in the all-time series. That’s like a Chuck Norris wheel kick to the noggin. Did someone say playoffs? The Men in Stripes have also lost two postseason games to Gang Green.
What Does It Mean?
Simply put, the Bengals will need to treat Sunday’s matchup like an early playoff game. The emotional level will certainly match the feel of The Big Dance. Once again Bengals fans will get to see how well Marvin Lewis has prepared his team for the bright lights. It’s New York, the nation is watching, and people will want the Jet to win. Well…unless you’re rooting for Marvin’s Men.
Winning this matchup is more important than it seems. If the Bengals lose in New York, they face a fired up Steelers team in Week 2. After the Stilluhs beat the Redskins (unless the football gods give the Bengals a little help), the AFC North rivalry will be in full effect. Going into Heinz stadium 0-1 is not a very good option. As prior years have proven, it’s better to build a large lead on the men from Pittsburgh.
The Jets will be without the services of Sheldon Richardson. New York’s talented defensive end will be serving a one-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Does that make things even? Yes and No. Cincinnati’s secondary will be tested. With Darqueze Dennard nursing an injury, Adam Jones will earn his captain “C” this week. Getting Josh Shaw and Shawn Williams into the right defenses will be critical.
Can Coach Lewis lead the Bengals to victory? Of course, he can. But, the offense will have to click under Ken Zampese and D-coordinator Paul Guenther will have to call a great game. Alex Erickson will have to show out on special teams. Each scenario is possible.
Who Dey Power Play
Andy Dalton will have a chip on his shoulder. After watching his team lose a close Wild Card game to the Stilluhs, Week 1 will be his call to action. Starting fast will keep the MetLife crowd quiet. Tyler Boyd will step up and take the heat away from A.J. Green.