The final day of September brings us the start of week 4 of the NFL season with a clash between AFC teams in the Buckeye State. It’s the Jacksonville Jaguars, in search of their first win of the season, on the road as they travel to face the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday Night Football. Jacksonville came up on the short end of a 31-19 score at home against Arizona Sunday in their week 3 tilt. Cincinnati went on the road and beat Pittsburgh 24-10 in a battle of AFC North foes Sunday in their last game. In the all-time regular-season series between the teams, the Jaguars own a 13-10 advantage though it was Cincinnati picking up a 33-25 victory at home in the most recent meeting on October 4, 2020.
Jacksonville Jaguars Seeking First Win of Lawrence EraJacksonville had the momentum going into the half against Arizona but saw things come apart in the second half as they suffered their 18th consecutive regular-season loss dating back to their win in the season opener in 2020. The Jaguars fell to 0-3 with the loss and are trying to earn the first win of the Urban Meyer/Trevor Lawrence era. Trailing 7-0 late in the first half, Jacksonville took a 13-7 halftime lead by scoring two touchdowns in the final 21 seconds, including a 109-yard return for a score by Jamal Agnew on a missed Arizona field goal as time expired. The Jaguars led 19-10 late in the third quarter before giving up a pair of scores in the final 1:21 of the quarter to trail 24-19. Jacksonville didn’t score again and went down in defeat. The Jaguars were outgained 407-361, gave up 23 first downs while picking up 20 and lost the time of possession 32:54 to 27:06. Jacksonville turned the ball over four times, including a pick-six, while forcing just one takeaway. The Jaguars’ turnovers more than negated the kick-six they got before the half while two missed extra points didn’t help matters.
On the season, Jacksonville is 27th in the league in passing offense with 211.7 yards per contest and 18th in rushing offense with 103.3 yards per game. The Jaguars are 27th in the league in scoring offense as they average 17.7 points per contest and stand 28th in scoring defense by allowing 30.3 points per contest. Trevor Lawrence has completed 64 of 118 passes for 669 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions on the year. He adds 46 yards on the ground. James Robinson leads the team in rushing with 31 carries for 160 yards plus a score this season. Carlos Hyde is the second option in the backfield as he adds 95 yards on 19 carries. Marvin Jones Jr. leads the team with 17 receptions for 194 yards and two scores. Laviska Shenault Jr. (13 catches, 95 yards), Robinson (12 catches, 92 yards, tight end James O’Shaughnessy (seven grabs, 72 yards) and D.J. Chark (seven receptions, 154 yards, two TD) are good options to look for when the Jaguars go to the air. Josh Lambo has struggled in the kicking game, hitting five of seven extra-point attempts while misfiring on all three of his field-goal attempts.
Jacksonville is going to have to find a way to be better against the pass than we’ve seen in the first three weeks of the season. The Jaguars are 28th in the league in pass defense, allowing 302.3 yards per game through the air on the season. Jacksonville has only recorded four sacks and just one interception so far this year, which has helped create a -8 mark in the takeaway/giveaway ratio. Seeing how the Bengals have a trio of young, talented receivers that can do damage, Jacksonville is going to have to find a way to rattle Joe Burrow or stare a 19th straight loss in the mirror.
Cincinnati Bengals Seek 3-1 Start to SeasonCincinnati pulled off what might be considered a surprise as they went on the road and knocked off the Steelers for their first win in the Steel City since 2015. The Bengals now look to pick up a win at home here to run their record to 3-1 on the season. Against Pittsburgh, Cincinnati gave up the tying score with 1:04 to play in the first half but covered 75 yards in three plays and 27 seconds to go up 14-7 at halftime. The Bengals broke the game open with 10 points in a 2:29 span of the third quarter to go up 24-7 and kept the Steelers in check the rest of the way to earn the win. Cincinnati was outgained 342-268 in total offense, lost the first down battle 21-12 and the time of possession by a 35:22 to 24:38 margin, yet won comfortably. Most of the yardage Pittsburgh picked up was empty yards that meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. Cincinnati forced two turnovers, setting them up in plus territory while leading to 14 points, and stopped Pittsburgh on downs twice, while committing only one turnover.
Yesterday's highlights are pretty fun to watch. That's all. ⤵— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) September 27, 2021
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For the year, the Bengals are 28th in the league in passing offense with 189.3 yards per contest while they are 17th in rushing with 104.7 yards per game. Cincinnati is 17th in the league in scoring offense with 22.7 points per game while they stand sixth in scoring defense by allowing an average of 18 points per game. Joe Burrow has completed 53 of 75 passes for 640 yards with seven touchdowns against four interceptions. Joe Mixon has been effective in the run game as he’s totaled 67 carries for 286 yards and a score. He’s done the heavy lifting as next in line is Samaje Perine, who has six carries for 21 yards on the season. In the passing game, Tyler Boyd leads the team with 14 catches for 141 yards plus a score. Ja’Marr Chase (11 catches, team-high 220 yards, four TD) and Tee Higgins (10 catches, 118 yards, two TD) are solid secondary options. Evan McPherson has hit all eight extra-point attempts and four of four field-goal tries with a long of 53 this season. Higgins is out tonight again with a shoulder injury.
Cincinnati hasn’t done a ton offensively but they’ve benefitted from some short fields. Two of Cincinnati’s three touchdown drives Sunday started on the Steelers’ side of the 50. That takes pressure off of Burrow and a young offensive group. If the Bengals can generate turnovers, which Jacksonville is prone to committing, and give the offense good field position to work with, that will make things easier for Cincinnati to put Jacksonville in a situation that the team doesn’t want to be in.
Full-Game Side Bet
Jacksonville has gone more than a calendar year since their last victory. Until they find a way to clean up the turnovers and make some plays on the defensive side of the ball, things aren’t going to get better. The Jaguars have fallen into the trap that many losing teams do, including self-destructing with turnovers, bad penalties and overall poor play that turns wins into losses. Lawrence has plenty of growing to do in order to turn the Jaguars around. Burrow hasn’t had to do a ton in order to help the Bengals in the first three weeks of the season. He bounced back nicely against Pittsburgh after throwing interceptions on back-to-back-back passes, including a pick-six, in the loss to the Bears. Cincinnati has the ability to rattle Lawrence and they have a balanced offensive attack that is enough to take down Jacksonville and improve to 3-1 on the year.
Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals -7.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Jacksonville has seen the under hit in two of their three games this season. After going over the total against Houston, totaling 58 points against a 45.5-point total, the Jaguars saw a total of 36 points (against a 45-point total) in the loss to Denver. That was followed up by a 50-point total against a 51.5-point total in the game with Arizona though to be fair, two of the touchdowns in the game were rather uncommon with the kick-six and the pick-six. Cincinnati has seen the under hit in two of three games on the year. The Bengals saw a total of 51 points in their OT win over the Vikings against a 47.5-point total in the opener. In the last two games, Cincinnati saw a total of 37 points against a 44.5-point number against the Bears and then 34 points against a 42-point number in the win over Pittsburgh. With Jacksonville struggling to slow teams on defense, the Bengals are poised for a big offensive showing here. That means the Jaguars will be passing early and often, pushing this one over the total with a late score or two.
Prediction: Over 45.5