Jets vs. Bengals Week 8 pick and prediction

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Jets Mike White pass white jersey
Jets Mike White pass white jersey

Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) at JETS (2-4)

Sunday, 1 p.m.

Spread: Bengals, -10 1/2

Remember two years ago when Sam Darnold was sick and his backup quarterback was hurt and the Jets were forced to start quarterback Luke Falk? It was a disaster. He threw for 218 yards combined in his two starts. The Jets’ offense in those two games scored a total of six points.

This is probably not the same thing. At least the Jets hope it isn’t.

But it still probably won’t be good.

On the surface, Mike White sure does look a whole lot better prepared for the spotlight than Falk was back in 2019, as he gets set to replace the injured Zach Wilson for at least this one game. Falk was essentially a rookie (his first season was basically wiped out by injury). White is in his fourth season, even though it wasn’t until last week that he threw his first regular season pass.

But even though he likely won’t be as bad as Falk was, there’s really no sign that the offense around him will be any good. Under Wilson, the Jets’ offense was barely functional at times through the first six games of the season. And now White takes his place and he’ll be without the injured Corey Davis, the Jets’ No. 1 receiver.

Why would things be any better – or even different -- now?

That makes this a really tough matchup for the Jets (which, to be honest, most of them are). The Bengals come in averaging 27 points a game behind one of the most exciting, young quarterback-receiver duos in the NFL in Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase. They have an array of other weapons, too, like receivers Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, tight end C.J. Uzomah, and running back Joe Mixon.

Mixon has 539 rushing yards. The Jets have 432. Chase and Boyd, the Bengals’ top two receivers, have combined for 96 catches, 1,083 yards and seven touchdowns. That’s not far behind the Jets’ receiving totals for their entire team (124-1,370-5).

You see the problem. The Jets are just out-gunned. And anyone who saw their defense lay down in New England last Sunday, when they gave up 551 yards and 51 points, knows they’re not equipped to offer much resistance. Even with the return of linebacker C.J. Mosley, their ceiling in this game is probably simply avoiding embarrassment. Actually stopping the Bengals seems far out of reach.

Their best hope would’ve been for Wilson to suddenly come of age and have a game that looked a lot like the second half and overtime against the Titans, where he just started making plays and flashing all his potential. Maybe a game against Burrow, who’s only a second-year quarterback himself, could’ve sparked something in the Jets rookie.

Instead, they get White.

Again, White figures to be a lot more competent than Falk, but this is his first start so there’s still some on-the-job training happening. He’s not going to magically become the spark that the NFL’s 31st-ranked offense has been missing. The best he probably will do is keep the Jets offense afloat.

That’s not enough against a Bengals team with a Top 10 defense and one of the highest-scoring offenses in the NFL. Hopefully the Jets coaching staff will challenge the pride of this team after their humiliation in New England. Maybe the return of Mosley to the defense will help. And maybe they’ll play with a little more urgency knowing their starting quarterback is out.

If that happens, then maybe this game won’t be as ugly as the 54-13 loss to the Patriots. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to end well.

Pick: Take the Bengals -10 1/2

Prediction: Bengals 41, Jets 17

My record straight up: 4-2

My record against the spread: 3-3