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Jaguars vs. Bengals Prediction: More woe for Urbz and Co.

The Urban Meyer experiment in Jacksonville has gotten off to a rocky start
The Urban Meyer experiment in Jacksonville has gotten off to a rocky start
By Neil Monnery

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One team looking forward towards competing for a playoff spot. The other has their fans already thinking a very high draft pick could very well be on the way. Can the Jags keep it competitive at Cincinnati? Neil Monnery has a look at this game...

I just had to double-check Jacksonville’s opponent. It seems like the only time the franchise ever appears on Thursday Night Football is to play a divisional game against the Tennessee Titans but this year buoyed by the number one overall pick, they get a different team but it most certainly won’t be easier for Urban Meyer’s lot.

For you see, the truth is the Jags just aren’t any good. Yes they had the 3-0 Arizona Cardinals in a bit of peril, leading as they did at the Half due to a 109 yard FG return for a score but they never really looked like they could seriously win Sunday’s game. The Cardinals did not play their best yet still cruised to a 12-point win on the road having traveled to the East coast for an early kick-off.

Trevor Lawrence is going to be a mighty fine pro at some point. I truly believe that but rookie QBs tend to struggle when thrown into the deep end for a franchise with issues all over the offense. This isn’t like say Justin Herbert, who stepped in as the starter in Los Angeles, a team with a decent O-line, a good RB and skill position players all over the shop. The cupboard is bare in Jacksonville. It is going to take time to fill it up and put the first-year player out of Clemson into a position to win multiple games.

With Travis Etienne down for the year, James Robinson has reestablished himself as RB1 and last week showed real signs of life, rumbling for 88 yards on 15 carries for a score. He added 46 yards receiving on six catches, which for fantasy purposes certainly made him more than relevant once more. Carlos Hyde spelled him nicely in the backfield.

Marvin Jones, DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault Jr. are all reliable options but none of them are true WR1 material. Lawrence needs time in the pocket and on Sunday he was sacked three times. On Thursday, he faces a D that took Big Ben down four times and limited the rushing attack to just 40 yards on 14 carries. The game will be put in the hands of Trevor Lawrence by the Bengals defense and that is a scary proposition at this point in his career.

As for Cincinnati, Joe Burrow is still working his way back into top form following a  season-ending a year ago. In three games so far, he hasn’t passed 261 yards through the air but with Joe Mixon in the backfield, he was a more than capable guy to tote the rock.

The addition of Ja’Marr Chase looks to have been a sapient one as Burrow’s former LSU teammate has now caught TD passes in all three starts so far as a pro. Pre-season there was lots of talk about whether he can catch the ball. I think it is best we chalk that up to just pre-season chatter.

At the time of writing, Tee Higgins’ availability is an unknown but that won’t affect how I see this match-up from a betting perspective. Having him suit up would clearly make me feel even more confident that the Bengals win and cover but even without him, I’m heavily leaning that way.

Spread:

The early line is Cincinnati-7 and I’m liking that. Jacksonville are 0-3 ATS so far in 2021 and I’m struggling to see much in the way of evidence to get me to think they change that to 1-3 on Thursday night.

Straight-up/Moneyline:

Bengals are -335 straight up to win. Too short for me.

Over/Under Points Totals:

My initial reaction to the 45.5pt number in this market is that it feels low but both teams involved have hit the under on two of their three games so far in this young season. Jacksonville though have given up 30 or more twice. I’ll take the over on gut feel.

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