New York Jets free safety Antonio Allen could be the game changer

A crucial game for Rex Ryan and the New York Jets approaches this weekend as they are facing the 5-2 Cincinnati Bengals

Who would have thought before the season that the late Sunday game between the New York Jets and the Cincinnati Bengals could be a good one. Probably the best one of the week.

Sure everyone had the Cincinnati Bengals on their list to make a deep run for the playoffs. NFL expert Mike Silver even picked them as the runner-up for the Super Bowl. That might be a reach but Marvin Lewis’ side, which was featured in this year's popular offseason documentary Hard Knocks, is piled up with talent.

There is most likely no one who had thought that the Jets would be that good. Most experts probably picked them to aim for a top five pick in the next draft. But with a 4-3 record just one behind the New England Patriots the Jets are looking pretty good going into week eight.

Rex Ryan is coaching for his job this season, after the whole Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez debacle last year lead to a 6-10 record, and he might be successful.

A big part of Ryan’s rebirth in New York is a younger and faster defence and his refocus on his strength: coaching defence. This mindset may have got out of hand after back-to-back playoff appearances and changing the style of play from defense to a high flying offence.

Now Ryan’s focus on defence was rewarded with a crucial victory over the division rival New England Patriots.

Big part of the success last weekend was Antonio Allen, second year free safety, locking up All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski. Sure, it was Gronkowski’s first game after a long injury but Allen did a pretty good job containing the 265 pounds receiver.

Allen’s skills will be helpful this weekend too. His opponents are Pro Bowl tight end Jermaine Gresham and rookie Tyler Eifert, who recorded a nice 32-yard catch in the end zone last week against the Detroit Lions – his first touchdown of his professional career.

Allen, who played also linebacker in college, really emerged at the end of last season after being waived twice and being resigned back with the Jets.

Sunday’s clash against the Cincinnati Bengals will tell if Antonio Allen figured out his new role. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who is very efficient and poised thus far, will test Allen. An interesting match up in the secondary will be the result.

Who will win? Cincinnati or New York?

image: © marianne oleary