Game time: 8:20 p.m. ET, Sept. 30, 2021
Venue: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Where to watch: NFL Network
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Bengals -7.5; O/U 46.5; Bengals -365, Jaguars +280
BetMGM: Bengals -7.5; O/U 46; Bengals -345, Jaguars +275
Caesars: Bengals -7.5; O/U 46; Bengals -350, Jaguars +280
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Jaguars - Bengals preview and analysis
Jaguars: lost 31-19 vs. Cardinals in Week 3
Bengals: won 24-10 at Steelers in Week 3
Not that I understand the mindset of Cincinnati Bengals fans, but it must be a good time to be one after handling the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road.
And I'd venture to guess the good times will keep rolling Thursday when the Bengals return home to a fired-up crowd against No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Bengals are coming off the biggest win of the Zac Taylor era, a 14-point triumph over their biggest rivals in the AFC North. Joe Burrow threw 172 yards and three touchdowns, while the Bengals secondary stepped up with Ben Roethlisberger throwing 58 times and intercepting him twice.
Burrow, last year's No. 1 overall pick who had his rookie season cut short due to a leg injury, is one of three quarterbacks in the AFC this season with at least two touchdown passes in the first three games. The others are Derek Carr and Patrick Mahomes. That's not bad company to be in.
Most importantly, the Bengals are 2-1 and are part of an early three-way tie for first place with the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. It's about as terrific of a situation as you could hope for with Cincinnati.
The Bengals have gotten major contributions on both sides of the ball. The offense is only averaging 318 yards per game, but Burrow has led it in an emphatic way. His clutch play in overtime in Week 1 set up the winning field goal against the Minnesota Vikings, and despite one interception on Sunday in Pittsburgh, he had only four incompletions with three touchdowns. He's taking care of the ball well.
A steady offense has been begged for in Cincinnati for years, and this could be a coming-out part for the Bengals offense if this Jacksonville defense continues this trajectory. The Jaguars have given up nearly 430 yards per game and 311.7 of them have come through the air. The quarterbacks they couldn't contain? Tyrod Taylor, Teddy Bridgewater, and Kyler Murray.
One of these things just doesn't belong here.
The Jaguars are coming off a 12-point loss to the Arizona Cardinals that showed some signs of promise. Jacksonville took a 13-7 lead into halftime thanks to Jamal Agnew returning a field goal 109 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. The Cardinals and Murray outscored the Jaguars 24-6 in the second half and thwarted any comver attempts.
Lawrence played better from the standpoint of completion percentage; he completed a best 64.7 percent of his passes but threw two interceptions against Arizona. One was returned for a touchdown by Byron Murphy Jr.
There's no questioning how good the offense has looked with Lawrence, but there's no consistency in the run game despite James Robinson's efforts anad Carlos Hyde's inconsistent touches.
Lawrence was rattled in his first road game in Week 1, but it was also his first NFL start against a Houston Texans team that looks average. Going into Cincinnati will be a tough task for anyone, especially when that team is making something happen. Bengals by 13
The Jaguars are 5-24 in their last 29 as an underdog straight up and 12-17 against the spread.
Jacksonville is 2-8 ATS in games after they were -2 in the turnover category the prior week.
It hasn’t happened often the past three seasons, but the Bengals are 1-2 ATS as a home favorite. Dating back the last 30 years, the Bengals are 74-77 ATS as a home favorite.
Players to watch
Jaguars: Marvin Jones Jr. is becoming one of Lawrence’s favorite targets through three weeks. The former Detroit Lions receiver had six catches for a team-high 62 yards last week.
Bengals: When Joe Mixon gets going, this team is hard to contain. Mixon had 90 yards last week and is looking for his fourth straight game of at least 70 yards from scrimmage.
Passing: Trevor Lawrence -- 669 yards, 5 TD, 7 INT
Rushing: James Robinson -- 160 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Marvin Jones -- 194 yards, 2 TD
Defense: Josh Allen -- 2 sacks
Passing: Joe Burrow -- 640 yards, 7 TD, 4 INT
Rushing: Joe Mixon -- 286 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Ja’Marr Chase -- 220 yards, 4 TD
Defense: B.J. Hill -- 3 sacks
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