THE GAME: The Cincinnati Bengals (0-0) at the Jets (0-0) at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on Sunday, Sept. 11 at 1 p.m. ET
THE WEATHER: A warm, but not-too-hot day with a light breeze and temperatures in the low-to-mid 80s.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Jets open the season with a terrible stretch of five playoff teams in their first six games. Since four of the first six games on the road, it becomes absolutely imperative for them to get off to a fast start. The Bengals won't be easy to beat, but compared to the rest of the schedule this might be the soft spot.
PLAYER TO WATCH: RB Matt Forte. After spending much of the summer nursing a hamstring injury, he got a lot of work in his one preseason game, perhaps indicating how much of a workhorse the Jets want him to be. It'll be very interesting to see how offensive coordinator Chan Gailey uses his new toy, who has been as dangerous a receiver as he's been a runner throughout his years. With Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker drawing attention deep, there could be a lot of room underneath for Forte to do some damage.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Darrelle Revis vs. A.J. Green. Yes, Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers said he's going to go with a group approach to stopping the Bengals' all-pro receiver. But even if that's true, there'll be plenty of times Revis and Green go one-on-one. This is the perfect opening test for Revis, who wants to prove to everyone that last year wasn't the beginning of a slow decline and that he's still one of the best corners in football. Meanwhile, now that Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu have signed elsewhere, Green is really all the Bengals have.
ACTIVE/INACTIVE: LB David Harris (shoulder) is active for the Jets. ... LB Jordan Jenkins (calf) is inactive along with QB Bryce Petty, QB Christian Hackenberg, RB Troymaine Pope, CB Darryl Roberts, OT Brandon Shell, and TE Braedon Bowman. For the Bengals, the inactives are QB Jeff Driskel; WR Cody Core; CB Darqueze Dennard; OG Christian Westerman; OG Trey Hopkins; DT DeShawn Williams; TE Tyler Eifert
THE PICK: It's bad enough that two of Andy Dalton's weapons left Cincinnati via free agency, but TE Tyler Eifert (ankle) is out of this game, too. You can't take that many weapons away against a defense like the Jets and expect to win. With fewer options to worry about, the Jets can focus on disrupting the quarterback, and if they do they could turn this game in their favor quickly. Meanwhile, as good as the Bengals are on defense - even without the suspended Vontaze Burfict - the Jets have enough weapons to move the ball, especially with the addition of Forte. As long as the Jets can protect Fitzpatrick, offense shouldn't be a problem for them. … Jets 21, Bengals 17.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
Here's a quick look at the Bengals through my three-question interview with Geoff Hobson, the website editor and Bengals writer for Bengals.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @GeoffHobsonCin and read all his coverage of the Bengals at Bengals.com:
1. Andy Dalton had really taken his game to another level last season before he got hurt. Is it fair to expect him to pick up where he left off, especially with receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson gone?
Geoff Hobson: Probably fair. Dalton took them to the postseason in 2012 when Jones and Sanu were rookies and in 2014 when Jones missed the entire year, tight end Tyler Eifert missed all but nine snaps and injuries held A.J. Green to catches in six games that included the Wild Card game. And quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese has been Dalton's quarterbacks coach every step of his NFL career. Jackson is brilliant, but Zampese didn't just fall of the turnip truck
2.They replaced Jones and Sanu with Brandon LaFell and a lot of youth. Can any of the other receivers be a big factor, or will the passing offense be the A.J. Green show?
GH: It can't be just the A.J. Green show or it will be a long year. The question should be, can LaFell, Tyler Boyd, et al, hold it together until Eifert comes back in a few weeks? Eifert is the true No. 2 receiver. The other guys are serviceable 3s and LaFell is just one year removed from catching 74 balls for a Super Bowl champion. They should be able to get what they need from them once Eifert is back. But what happens until then?
3.How much will the Bengals defense miss Vontaze Burfict, who is suspended for the first three weeks for continual violations of player safety rules?
GH: The guy is one of the best players in the league so they'll miss him, but they're used to playing without him. He's missed 17 games the past two seasons and last year they went 6-0 while he was on PUP. Take a bow, Vincent Rey. Burfict is the brains of the outfit, but Rey is a heady, productive player who gets them lined up. He's not a Pro Bowler like Burfict, but they do a nice job playing team defense. Yet, you wonder. With Burfict in the lineup against the Steelers last year, Pittsburgh's potent offense basically scored one touchdown combined in two of the three games. Can they do it without him in Pittsburgh in Week 2?