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Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Five things to watch: Bengals at Jets

By James Walker

The Cincinnati Bengals (2-8) will try to break their NFL-high seven-game losing streak on Thanksgiving night against the New York Jets (8-2).

Here are five things to watch for the Bengals:

1. Will they show up? Here is the hard truth: The Bengals aren't going to win many games the rest of the season. At this stage, it's about playing for professional pride and not embarrassing themselves like last week when the Bengals allowed 35 unanswered points to the lowly Buffalo Bills. Cincinnati hasn't won a game since Sept. 26, which is nearly two months ago. But there is still enough talent on this roster to compete and possibly pull an upset or two in the final six weeks. But if the Bengals decide not to show up against a playoff-caliber team like the Jets, this game could get ugly fast.

2. Can T.O. thrive on Revis Island? The rivalry started in Buffalo, and it continues Thursday with the Bengals. Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis once called Bengals receiver Terrell Owens a "slouch," and Owens responded this week by saying Revis is an "average' cornerback. These two players simply don't like each other. The Jets will match the physical Revis on Owens, while cornerback Antonio Cromartie plays against Chad Ochocinco. For Cincinnati to pull the upset, its receivers have to win these matchups.

3. How bad is Carson Palmer hurting? Credit Palmer for not making any excuses for his performance this season, but the quarterback is quietly dealing with several injuries. He took a painkilling injection in his shoulder to play two weeks ago against the Indianapolis Colts, and this week he missed more practice time with a left foot injury. Expect a lot of pressure from the blitz-heavy Jets. Palmer has been sacked 17 times this season, which isn't a very high total. He's getting rid of the ball quickly while taking plenty of hits behind a subpar offensive line.

4. Will the Bengals eliminate mistakes? Owens said it best this week: "We have made enough mistakes the last six ballgames to last a lifetime." The Bengals are one of the sloppiest NFL teams this year. They've committed costly turnovers and penalties time after time and haven't been able to clean up that problem. Last week against Buffalo, Cincinnati had seven penalties and three turnovers. The Bengals have to play a lot smarter to have a chance on the road against the Jets.

5. How will younger players perform? At 2-8, the record provides an opportunity for Cincinnati's younger players to step up. Closely monitor rookies such as tight end Jermaine Gresham, receiver Jordan Shipley and defensive linemen Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins. With the Bengals due for a major offseason makeover, these young players need to develop and prove they're a part of Cincinnati's foundation in 2011. All four rookies have shown flashes but need to be consistently productive.