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Glauber: Five reasons why Jets will beat Bengals

Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets

Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets runs the ball in for a first quarter touchdown after an interception against the Carolina Panthers. (November 29, 2009) Credit: Getty Images

Three weeks after thinking his Jets were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, coach Rex Ryan now says the Jets should be considered the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

Crazy? Not according to the coach or his players.

Realistic? Well, let's put it this way: How 'bout we go along with him a quarter of the way and we'll reassess next week.

First things first: The Jets will beat the Bengals tomorrow in Cincinnati in the first round of the AFC playoffs.

The five reasons why:

1. Dee-fense!

Despite public perception to the contrary, Ryan's biggest impact on his team hasn't been his non-stop flurry of in-your-face quotes. It's the scheme that suddenly has transformed the Jets into the league's top-ranked defense.

The Jets led the NFL with 252 yards per game allowed. More importantly, they gave up a league-low 236 points, nearly half of the Giants' total of 427 points, and seven of the touchdowns they allowed came when the defense wasn't even on the field.

This might not be the kind of shutdown defense that Ryan had in Baltimore, but it's getting there. Key stat: The Jets allowed only 3.8 yards per rush, fourth-best in the NFL. Watch out, Cedric Benson.

One cautionary note about the defense: Inside linebacker David Harris, the team's second-best defender behind Darrelle Revis, will be limited with an ankle injury. It puts additional pressure on fellow inside linebacker Bart Scott.

2. The ground 'n' pound

When you have a dominant running game to go along with a dominant defense, you are perfectly situated in a playoff game, even if it's on the road.

The Jets torched the Bengals last week at home in a win-and-in scenario, but Cincinnati was resting some key starters. Even with defensive linemen Robert Geathers and Domata Peko, along with safety Chris Crocker, returning this week, the Jets' offensive line gets the decided advantage to open holes for Thomas Jones and rookie Shonn Greene. The Jets led the NFL with 2,756 rushing yards, with Jones enjoying a career year with 1,402 yards.

Key stat: The Jets led the NFL with an average of 37.9 rushing attempts per game. Translation: A ball-control offense not only leads to points but takes time off the clock and keeps the opposing offense off the field. Look for that to continue against the Bengals. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Jets rush more than 40 times, especially if weather limits the passing game.

3. The Sanchez rules

After becoming the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to win his first three starts, Mark Sanchez turned into an interception machine. Key stat: Through his first 10 games, he had 16 picks, prompting Ryan to get more involved with the offense.

But after the Jets dropped to 4-6, Sanchez has been a far more efficient quarterback; in his last five starts, he has only four interceptions, and that includes three in the Falcons game.

Sanchez didn't have any picks in Sunday's game against Cincinnati; if he keeps a clean sheet again, the Jets' offense could dominate.

4. The Revis factor

Much was made last week of Chad Ochocinco's individual matchup with Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, mostly because Ochocinco did all he could to hype the showdown. Turned out it wasn't much of a duel: Ochocinco caught zero passes before leaving in the second half with a tweaked knee. Figure Ochocinco will do better than zero catches tomorrow. Not much, though. Key stat: Revis has held No. 1 receivers Ochocinco, Reggie Wayne, Terrell Owens (twice), Randy Moss (twice), Roddy White and Andre Johnson to a total of 26 catches for 218 yards and one touchdown. Long day, Ocho.

5. The "it" factor

You can't quantify this with any stats; it's more like a feeling. Sometimes a team just has an aura, a sense that tells you there's something a little more special than usual. The Jets have the "it" factor, even if you think they got into these playoffs through the back door. Ryan's bravado underscores that vibe.

"We're a confident football team right now," safety Jim Leonhard said. "That's what you need going into the playoffs.''

Put it all together, and here's what you've got: Jets 24, Bengals 14.

>> PHOTOS: Jets playoff history  | Jets 37, Bengals 0

>> 10 reasons to fear the Bengals | Why the Jets should fear themselves

>> BLOG: Latest Jets-Bengals news and analysis

>> FUN: NY vs. Cincy | Best of Rex Ryan

>> MORE Jets playoff coverage | 2009 season recap

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