NFL Preview: Jacksonville Jaguars @ Cincinnati Bengals

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL heads to Jacksonville as the rebuilding Jaguars welcome the Cincinnati Bengals.

You’re not going to find many people interested in betting anything on the Jaguars right now, but if ever there was a spot to take the underdog with the points this is it.

Things have certainly been turbulent for rookie QB Trevor Lawrence, but they haven’t been aided by former Ohio State coach Urban Meyers and his play calling.

Meyers is seemingly asking a lot of his franchise QB. While Lawrence is finding his feet in the league the implementation of deep passing offences aren’t ideal and are certainly hurting the team’s chances to find consistency on offence together.

Run the damn football!

The Jaguars are 27th in rush attempts per game this season, yet starting RB James Robinson is fourth in yards per carry.

The attempts to disguise their pass attack by varying their approach on every drive is causing far more confusion than necessary at the moment and if the home team can take the load off Lawrence it can help him to be far more effective when throwing the football.

The Bengals have been much improved against the run so far this season so while the temptation might be there for Meyers to keep drawing plays for his young QB the importance of establishing some consistency on the ground is the only way to help ease the pressure on the former Clemson star at centre.

Protect the QB

One man who seemingly had no problem transitioning to the NFL was former LSU stud Joe Burrow.

His return from injury this season has been impressive all things considered, but the same concerns still exist for him and this team; that’s an inability to keep teams out of the backfield.

Burrow was sacked five times across the first two games of the season. Things looked better last week against the Steelers but that’s also largely because of Pittsburgh’s injuries on that side of the ball.

While Jacksonville’s defence has its obvious flaws, they do manage to get pressure on opposing QB’s and that’s going to be pivotal if they’re to have a shot at winning this one outright.

The Jaguars are top-10 in QB pressures this season and QB knockdowns. While they don’t run a blitz-heavy scheme defensively they do still find ways to collapse the pocket and if they can make life uncomfortable for Burrow they’ll give themselves a shot at limiting any big play opportunities for the Bengals.

Market watch

There hasn’t been a lot of movement on this game since opening, but if this line goes anywhere it’s in favour of the Jags at this number.

Laying more than a TD on the road on a short week is tough for most teams and the Bengals don’t command that sort of respect as yet, irrespective of their opposition.

If you like the Bengals to cover your best bet is to wait until closer to kick off and see if the Jags get the market support to push them off the hook so you’re laying a flat 7.0.

From a numbers standpoint it’s essentially Jacksonville or pass and I think there’s enough of a case to be made to take the home team with this much of a start.

Our best bet: Jacksonville Jaguars +7.5


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