The Cincinnati Bengals welcome the Jacksonville Jaguars to Paul Brown Stadium for a Thursday night primetime showdown featuring the last two consecutive No.1 draft picks, Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence, going head-to-head. It’s the first of (hopefully) many meetings between these Next Gen quarterbacks in the NFL, and the public is all over it. However, it’s also their first meeting since Burrow led LSU to the win over Lawrence and the Clemson Tigers in the 2020 College Football Championship game.
These two young quarterbacks have plenty of history to draw from, and the NFL odds exemplify that history. Books opened the Bengals as the 6.5-point home chalk, but early betting pushed the NFL line up to -7.5 with several top-rated sportsbooks. The total opened on 45.5 points where it’s stayed put since.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Thursday, September 30, 2021 – 8:20 PM EDT at Paul Brown Stadium
Jaguars Desperately Seeking First Win
Head coach Urban Meyer and rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence have had a rough start to their NFL debuts, respectively. The Jaguars are 0-3 SU on the season after losses to the Houston Texans, the Denver Broncos and the Arizona Cardinals, and they’re 0-3-0 ATS with a losing margin of 12.7 points and -6.3 differential versus the spread.
The Jaguars are one of five remaining teams that are 0-3 SU on the season. However, of the five teams in question, the Jaguars are in the greatest danger of finishing the season on a league-worst record.
The Jaguars opened the season with a 37-21 loss to the Texans as the 3.5-point road chalk, followed by a 23-13 loss to the Broncos as the 6-point home underdogs. In their third game, the Jaguars closed as the 8-point home chalk, but lost 31-19 to the Cardinals.
Lawrence, the 2021 No.1 draft pick, went 22 of 34 for 219 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He’s had two or more interceptions in all three starts. He also twice fumbled the ball in Sunday’s loss. Running back James Robinson led the team in rushing with 88 yards and a touchdown, while Marvin Jones Jr. and DJ Clark Jr. combined for111 yards receiving and one touchdown.
Cincy Win Back-to-Back Games
The Cincinnati Bengals delivered one of the biggest upsets of the weekend when they defeated reigning NFC North champions Pittsburgh Steelers. And by virtue of the key divisional victory, the Bengals moved into top spot in the AFC North standings, albeit tied with the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns with a 2-1 record. The Bengals are 2-1-0 ATS with a winning margin of 4.7 points and a +7.2 differential versus the spread.
The Bengals opened the season with a thrilling 27-24 upset over the Minnesota Vikings as the 3-point home underdogs. The following week saw Cincy succumb to a narrow 20-7 loss to the Chicago Bears.
In their third game, the Bengals outplayed and outmuscled the Pittsburgh Steelers to clinch the surprisingly commanding 24-10 win at Heinz Field. The Bengals closed as the 2.5-point road underdogs across multiple sports betting platforms only to defy the NFL odds.
Joe Burrows’ sophomore season is off to a stellar start. The second-year quarterback went 14-of-18 for172 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in Sunday’s win over the Steelers. He’s averaging 213.3 yards per game and had 7 touchdowns to four interceptions to his credit.
Ja’Marr Chase connected with Burrows for 65 yards receiving on four receptions and two touchdowns while running back Joe Mixon led the team with 90 yards rushing. The defense was disruptive and sacked Ben Roethlisberger four times and had the veteran quarterback under constant pressure.
NFL Predictions and Picks
The Jaguars and Bengals have enjoyed contrasting fortunes in the month of September, and books haven taken stock of it. Indeed, it’s the first time this season that the Bengals go into a game as the favorites on the NFL odds board. And not just small favorites either as they’re laying a touchdown or more to the Jaguars. On the flipside, the Jaguars are catching six points or more for the third straight week, and for the second week in a row they’re an underdog of a touchdown or more.
It’s a short week. How the Bengals handle the pressure of being the betting favorite under these circumstances remains to be seen. Perhaps, against any other team, genuine concern about such a hefty point spread would be warranted. In this case though, the Bengals should take care of business and take the win against a dismal Jaguars side that’s got more work to do than most expected in the preseason.
NFL Picks: Bengals -7 (-110) with DraftKings