Bengals Look for Fourth Straight Win While the Steelers Seek A Third for the Season

On Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) will take on an improving New York Jets (4-3) team. With rookie Jets quarterback Geno Smith at the helm, Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins will try to stop him.

After a rough start, Smith now has the distinction of the first rookie quarterback since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to have four fourth-quarter/overtime game-winning drives over his first seven games in the league. Helping Smith is his team’s defense, which is ranked No. 4 overall and a clutch kicker, Nick Folk, who has successfully kicked three field goals at either the end of the fourth quarter or in overtime to get the Jets a win.

From the four victories, Smith has completed 60.8 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns for a 93.7 quarterback rating. He also runs and has a 6-yard average per carry. But in the team’s three losses, it’s a different Smith: 55.3 percent pass completion, seven picks (only one score) and a 3.6 yard run per carry. His rating drops to 51.6.

Can you say inconsistent?

However, Smith’s play has been good enough for Bengals coach Marvin Lewis to say via ESPN, “Geno’s done well. They’ve done a fine job of building their offensive team around him and with what they’re doing schematically with involving the dropbacks that they do, the play-action dropbacks, the nakeds [bootlegs], the screens … and then to the read-option type of thing that he’s running, there’s a lot of scheme.”

Andy Dalton

Andy Dalton

Fortunately for Lewis, his quarterback Andy Dalton has also been a huge contributor in the team’s three straight wins. Over his last two games, he passed for 709 yards (a 67.6 pass completion rate), six touchdowns, one pick and a 119.7 passer rating. He’s also received assistance from his kicker, Mike Nugent, who has helped to get the late win with a 54-yard field goal last week against the Detroit Lions (4-3) for a 27-24 victory and a 43-yarder in the Oct. 13 win over the Buffalo Bills (3-4).

Dalton has a good group of targets, especially for his passing game with All-Pro receiver A.J. Green, receiver Marvin Jones and rookie tight end Tyler Eifert and on the ground, there’s his second rookie, Giovani Bernard. Last week, Green had an 82-yard touchdown reception and for the day, had six catches for 155 yards.

To-date, he is among the NFL’s top receivers with his 43 receptions and 619 yards.

For Sunday’s game, look for Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie to try and stop Green’s good play. Meanwhile, lucky for the Jets, the Bengals are without cornerback Leon Hall, who is out for the rest of the season from a torn Achilles tendon.

In addition to the growing confidence by the Jets, they have won their last nine of 10 games against the Bengals. This includes the 2009 wild-card win.

The Bengals are enjoying their AFC North lead and will continue with another win this week (-5, 41.5 o/u).

In other AFC North action…

The Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4) will look to keep their two-game win streak alive on Sunday with a victory against the Oakland Raiders (2-4). Their wins have come against the Baltimore Ravens (3-4) and the New York Jets as the team’s improving defense has been a key contributor.

In these games, they’ve only allowed one touchdown and four sacks–matching totals from the Steeler’s first four games. They’ll look for this momentum to continue and will find success on Sunday (-2.5, 40.5 o/u).

Jason Campbell

Jason Campbell

For the Cleveland Browns (3-4), they’re also hoping third time will be the charm–for their quarterbacks. On Sunday, backup quarterback Jason Campbell will start for the team after benching Brandon Weeden. While previously a starter for the Raiders, Campbell spent last season with the Chicago Bears (4-3) and only had one start.

Will he be rusty? Unfortunately he’ll face the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs (7-0), who will get the win (-7, 38.5 o/u).

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