On Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) travel to face the Cincinnati Bengals (0-2-1) at Paul Brown Stadium in a Week 4 showdown of two struggling teams looking to get their seasons on track.
The Jaguars are coming off of a pair of disheartening losses to the Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins that saw their defense give up a combined 64 points. The Bengals are returning home after two away games. They lost to state and division rival Cleveland Browns and fought to a 23-23 tie against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The team was supposed to lean on their defense coming into the season but has yet to live up to those expectations. After beating the playoff-hopeful and interdivisional foe Indianapolis Colts in Week 1, the defense coughed up big games to quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill and Ryan Fitzpatrick in back-to-back weeks.
Against the Titans, Jacksonville’s offense kept pace, led by mustachioed quarterback Gardner Minshew and running back James Robinson. Against Miami, however, the team was clearly missing Pro Bowl wide receiver D.J. Chark as the offense sputtered after trailing by 14 early. Chark is expected to suit up on Sunday against a banged-up Cincinnati secondary.
Robinson has been a breath of fresh air after the departure of Leonard Fournette prior to the season. Through three games, he has accounted for 210 yards and three trips to the end zone and caught 10 passes for 129 yards in the passing game. The Jaguars will look to get him the ball early and often against a Bengals team missing All-Pro Geno Atkins and Mike Daniels in the middle of the defensive line. Jacksonville would also like to limit the turnovers and should do so by reducing the number of attempts by Minshew. He has hurled three picks and put the ball on the ground twice so far this season.
Joe Burrow has shown tremendous poise in a pocket that is immediately collapsing around him on nearly every pass attempt. More concerning in Cincinnati is newly-extended Joe Mixon, as the offensive line has failed to provide any running room. That has resulted in a paltry 3.2 yards per carry on 70 attempts. Alex Redmond has been promoted from the practice squad and expected to start at right guard.
With the Bengals trailing often, Burrow has thrown the ball a whopping 141 times. Burrow is the only rookie in history with 800 yards, five passing touchdowns, and less than two interceptions, but head coach Zac Taylor knows that balance is the key to a win. Like the Jaguars, they will also be trying to get their star running back going in order to control the clock against a team that gave up 138 yards in Week 3.
In addition to Atkins and Daniels, Cincinnati will likely be without slot cornerback Mackensie Alexander (doubtful), as well as rookie linebacker Logan Wilson who has not passed concussion protocol. A larger role will be carved out for fellow rookie Akeem Davis-Gaither, who has been solid thus far in 2020. On offense, the young quarterback hopes to continue his rapport with Tyler Boyd, who caught 10 passes for 125 yards last week.
Date: October 4, 2020
Start Time: 1:00 P.M. est
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Stadium: Paul Brown Stadium
TV Info: CBS
Betting Odds Sponsored by Jazz Sportsbook
Point Spread: JAX +2.5 (-110) | CIN -2.5 (-110)
Moneyline: JAX +115 | CIN -145
Over/Under: O 49.5 (-110) | U 49.5 (-110)
In a battle of two teams trying desperately to find a rhythm, the spread is too close to call. Cincinnati has the edge for being on their home turf, but two-and-a-half points is never a safe bet. The moneyline doesn’t stand to be worth the risk on either side. The bet here is on the total; each team has a suspect defense and the tone will be set early as an up-tempo affair. Going over the 49.5 is the only bet to make on this game.
This is going to be an up-and-down, offensive game. These clubs are susceptible to both the run and the pass, and it should be expected that there will be multiple lead changes until one or the other finally make a stop on defense. In this case, it will be the Bengals, who bend but do not break and hold off a late drive by Minshew to preserve their first win of the season at home.
Final Score: Jaguars 27, Bengals 31
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