Look, we get it: A lot of you
are watching Jersey Shore on an endless loop have lives and don’t have time to obsess over every aspect of the Jets’ playoff game against the Bengals on Saturday. But maybe you’ll be at some sort of social occasion, required to talk about it anyway. Worry not! Here’s your quick and easy guide to the five major story lines in the game. Memorize this, and you’ll no longer fear looking like a fool when talking to three men who have painted their faces and are wearing firemens’ hats and carrying axes.
Chad Ochocinco won’t be messing with Darelle Revis anymore. The eccentric Bengals wide receiver joked about the great Jets cornerback not being able to cover him on Twitter before last week’s Sunday-night game, but then Revis did just that. Ochocinco is all serious this week, or at least as serious as anyone who changed their name to “Ochocinco” can be. Revis is the most valuable player the Jets have, and if he can shut down Ochocinco again, the Bengals will be short one of their most dangerous weapons.
Thomas Jones should carry the ball 40 times. The quiet Jones has been the Jets’ best player on offense all season, finishing third in the NFL in rushing and serving as the foundation for everything the team has tried to do on offense. The best chance the Jets have to beat the Bengals — to beat anybody, really — is to hand it to Jones over and over, and let him do his thing. Think of him like Curtis Martin, and Mark Sanchez like Ray Lucas.
Brad Smith is the Jets’ fun plaything. The former quarterback at Missouri has turned into the Jets’ most potent all-around threat, running kickoffs back for touchdowns, lining up at wide receiver and, most intriguingly, running the option. This is likely going to be a low-scoring game won by the team that makes a big play. Brad Smith is pretty much the only Jet capable of one.
Sanchez Sanchez Sanchez. In every preview of this matchup you read, you can tell that prognosticators desperately want to pick the Jets. The Bengals are kind of the ideal matchup for them. But there is the Sanchez problem. It’s not that Sanchez is bad, it’s just that he’s so young. Betting on a rookie quarterback on the road in the playoffs is typically a shaky proposition — though it’s worth noting that the Ravens won two games on the road last year with Joe Flacco behind center — and Sanchez has done little to earn much confidence on that front. His job is to hand off to Jones, occasionally hit some short cross patterns, and hold on to the danged ball. If Sanchez doesn’t throw any interceptions, the Jets will win this game. But that might be asking too much.