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Bengals-Jets Preview

Bengals-Jets Preview
It appears to have taken Brett Favre only four games with the New York Jets to erase the culture of losing that came with last year's 4-12 squad. It is uncertain if Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis can overcome that same problem with his young team.

Coming off one of the best games of his storied career, Favre tries to get the Jets back over .500 as they host the winless Bengals on Sunday.

The Jets (2-2) spent the bye week getting healthy and trying to find ways to further the momentum from their 56-35 victory over Arizona on Sept. 28. Favre - in his 18th year - set a career high and equaled a franchise record with six touchdown passes as the Jets raced to a 34-0 halftime lead and had a few nervous moments before putting the game out of reach with his final scoring toss, a 24-yarder to Dustin Keller with 1:54 left.

"It's a work in progress every day," center Nick Mangold said of Favre, who leads the league with 12 TD passes and a 110.8 passer rating. "He's doing a great job and I think all of the guys in here are doing a good job of working and making sure we all know what we need to do and how to get it done."

Favre appears to have found a comfort zone with his receivers, most notably Laveranues Coles, who has 14 catches for 180 yards and four touchdowns - three against Arizona - in his last two games after totaling four receptions for 77 yards his first two.

"I know the guy is a playmaker," Favre said of Coles. "Trying to get the ball to him is important. Even when he's not the primary guy, he's going to make a lot of plays. Several of the touchdowns I threw... he was not the primary read. It could have easily gone to someone else. Our communication has been great from day one. The fact that we've practiced and played together has made all the difference."

While the offense has righted itself with 85 points the last two games, coach Eric Mangini will be trying to tighten a defense that was burned for five second-half touchdowns by Arizona. In his first two seasons, Mangini has made successful defensive adjustments during the bye week, resulting in wins at New England in 2006 and at home against Pittsburgh last year.

"The consistent thing and the thing I stress to the players is the importance of going back and look at things individually," Mangini said. "First starting with yourself and being brutally honest and saying, 'What can I improve and have I worked on those things that I need to improve? Am I where I should be at this point and if not, how can I get there?"'

The Bengals (0-5) were thought to have erased that culture of losing by winning the AFC North in 2005, but the last two-plus seasons has seen them backslide into the losing ways that preceded Lewis' arrival in 2003, going 15-22 in that span. Partially due to a youth movement at the beginning of this year that saw Cincinnati release key veterans including Rudi Johnson and Deltha O'Neal, Lewis has been trying to do more with less-experienced players - including seven defensive starters with three years or less - and seeing up close how fine a line there is between winning and losing.

"We've taken some lumps this year, and that doesn't change how I approach what I do," said Lewis, whose job is secure despite being the only 0-5 team in the league. "I'm excited about our football team. I actually like our football team, other than being 0-5. I like our guys. I like what we're doing. We're working very, very hard."

Having quarterback Carson Palmer fully healthy would also help. The fifth-year signal-caller is still nursing a sore elbow suffered against the New York Giants on Sept. 21 that caused him to sit out a game, and he is hoping a couple of days off from practice this week will give him the chance to be 100 percent versus the Jets.

"There were a couple times where I didn't have the confidence I normally have, just because my arm's not the same as previous to the injury," admitted Palmer, who did go 23 for 39 for 217 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-22 loss at Dallas on Sunday. "As far as throwing balls, I felt like I missed a couple of throws I shouldn't have missed. But the only thing I noticed was just a little less confidence in throwing some. I saw holes (in the coverage) in certain spots that I kind of held back on and moved on to the next guy."

Palmer threw for 226 yards and a touchdown in a 38-31 victory over the Jets last year in which they rallied from a 13-point, second-half deficit. Kenny Watson rushed for 130 yards and three TDs for Cincinnati, ending a five-game losing streak to New York that dated to 1990.

The Jets have won six straight at home over the Bengals since a 31-30 defeat on Sept. 13, 1981, when they played at Shea Stadium. Favre is 3-1 lifetime against the Bengals, but lost to them in his most recent meeting in 2005.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 9, 2008

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