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Preview, predictions, what to watch for

An inside look at Sunday’s Jets-Bengals Week 3 matchup at MetLife Stadium.

Marquee matchup

Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase vs. Jets CBs Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed

Chase won the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award last year and already has a 100-yard game this season, when he caught 10 passes in the opener against the Steelers. The Jets will have the tough task of slowing him down.

“He’s an animal, he’s got tremendous body control, he’s got tremendous strength, he’s got great feel to sit in zones, he is one of the better receivers in football,” head coach Robert Saleh said.

The Jets will go after Chase with their two new cornerbacks. Reed and Gardner have played well early on, though there has been some miscommunication with all the new pieces on the back end. Gardner gave up a touchdown against the Browns when he appeared to be in the wrong coverage.

Saleh does not usually have one cornerback follow the opposing team’s best receiver, so expect a mix of Reed and Gardner on Chase as the Jets usually play zone on first and second down. It will be interesting to see what they do on third down, when they try to blitz and play man coverage more.

Ja'Marr Chase and Sauce Gardner
Ja’Marr Chase and Sauce Gardner
Getty Images (2)

Costello’s call

The Jets pulled off one of the most dramatic victories in their history last week with the final-minute win. The Bengals are coming off two last-minute losses of their own. Neither side will suffer the same fate this week. Cincinnati controls this one and gets a W.

Bengals 35, Jets 20

Four downs

Joe’s last ride? Backup quarterback Joe Flacco led the Jets to the shocking victory in Cleveland last week. But is this one it for him? Zach Wilson could return from a knee injury next week against the Steelers. Flacco has thrown for 300 yards in back-to-back games and had four touchdown passes last week. The man teammates call “Cool Joe” then let loose in the postgame locker room, jumping up and down with teammates, which was sent to the world by the Jets’ social media team. His children gave him grief about the scene.

“It’s a shame that everything is so open these days,” an embarrassed Flacco said. “I mean, not that it’s a bad thing, but it’s all good, it’s all fun, and you know, you’re glad that people kind of get to see all that, but obviously when we are doing that, I have no idea that that’s going to get out there on social media and those kind of things. I probably wouldn’t have, it would’ve been like me at a wedding, I would’ve been standing on a table, making sure I’m not on somebody’s camera.”

An encore for Wilson: Rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson had his breakout game against the Browns last week, catching eight passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Now, he’ll try to keep it going.

The Jets can only hope Wilson will have the impact other rookie receivers have had in recent years, including one they’ll face Sunday — Ja’Marr Chase of the Bengals. Chase and the Vikings’ Justin Jefferson were immediate stars in the NFL, something Wilson is trying to duplicate.

“You saw how far the Bengals went last year when they got on the right page with the quarterback,” Wilson said. “Watching [Jefferson and Chase] last year while I was in college, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. That was my goal. That’s what I planned on doing.”

Backed up Bengals: The Jets face a desperate team on Sunday. The Bengals are 0-2, the first team since the 2002 Rams to play in a Super Bowl, then start the subsequent season 0-2. The Bengals also remember their stunning 34-31 loss to the Jets last year and surely will not be caught sleeping in this one.

“We’ve been begging for expectations,” Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said. “We’ve been begging for high standards, and now they’re here and this is part of it. When you start out slower than what you hoped and what people anticipated, then you’re gonna deal with that. And I love it.”

The Jets are looking for their first two-game winning streak since 2020 and to be above .500 for the first time since they opened 1-0 in 2018.

Knock out punching: The Jets did a good job against the Browns’ rushing attack for three quarters last week, then let Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt go wild. The Jets gave up 123 yards rushing in the fourth quarter last week. Coaches felt the defenders were too aggressive trying to punch the ball out of the ball carriers’ hands instead of making sure they tackled them.

“In doing that, we failed to tackle as well as we should,” defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said. “I definitely have to be more conscious of that as far as telling them, first man in, you got to wrap this guy up. That can’t change.”

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