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Jaguars @ Bengals Preview

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In a not-so-competitive week 3 AFC North matchup, the Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-10. This win was a big one for the Bengals because this was their first win at Heinz field since 2015, and this is the first time the Bengals have won 2 games in a row against their AFC North rivals since 2009. Joe Burrow went 14-18 with a total of 172 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Joe Mixon had a total of 90 yards in 18 carries on the ground. As for Ja’Marr Chase, he has shown that drops are no issue in the regular season after he recorded 2 receiving touchdowns and 65 yards in only 4 receptions. Ja’Marr now leads rookie receivers in touchdowns and yards this season. Now the Bengals will turn their attention to the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars this Thursday night back home in the Jungle. This would appear to be an easy game, although it IS the Bengals, it should still be interesting to see Trevor Lawrence face off against Joe Burrow for the first time since January of 2020 in the College Football National Championship game.

 

Is This Defense Really Legit?

Yes… I think. If you compare, both on paper and in performance, it really does look like a “Night and Day” difference, like Sam Hubbard put it in a post-game interview. Yes, it has only been three weeks, but this defense has shown that it is capable of providing significantly more pressure with much more significant consistency. With the return of DJ Reader and the acquisition of players like Trey Hendrickson and Larry Ogunjobi, the defensive line honestly looks like a top 10-15 line that is going under the radar because of bias due to previous seasons’ of lackluster production. Not to mention —  Logan Wilson is starting to look like a steal from last year’s draft after coming up with his second and third interception in the last two games against Pittsburgh this week. That said, the Bengals really haven’t faced a real top offense yet this year. This Thursday should be a great game to capture some momentum going forward into the Green Bay game in week 5, which should provide a lot of insight into whether or not this team is a true competitor this season or not on both sides of the ball. This week I would expect quite a few turnovers from this defense, considering they are matched up against a rookie QB in Trevor Lawrence and a fairly non-existent run game.

 

Chase’n The Record Books

Ja’Marr Chase has definitely bounced back after a very concerning preseason. In 11 receptions, Chase has already racked up 220 yards and 4 touchdowns, some of which came from over 30 yards out, which silences the doubts about his ability to create separation. Chase has already said that he wants to shatter rookie records for receiving, and the way this season has gone that is looking very possible. However, the play-calling might need to get a little more aggressive. Zac Taylor seems very hesitant to throw the deep ball unless necessary.  That, in my opinion, needs to change if this team wants a chance at a competitive season. With teams like the Packers and Ravens coming up on the schedule, the conservativeness might need to slow down a bit. I think that this game against the Jags is the perfect opportunity to let Joe air out the ball. Cincinnati is by far the favorite here for a reason; this would be the perfect time to try out some new material.

 

Keeping The New Stripes Clean

In a near-perfect week three performance, the Bengals offensive line only allowed 2 QB pressures – both of which were charged to Quenton Spain – and no sacks. Also, the line was without Xavier Su’a Filo who left the game against Chicago shaken up. To fill in for Xavier, the Bengals gave rookie Jackson Carman his first start. With TJ Watt out for the Steelers with a groin injury, things were obviously significantly easier on the line, but the numbers they put up are still incredible regardless of who the Steelers had playing. Similar to the defense, there is a big opportunity to pick up some momentum against Jacksonville on Thursday night, and this game could provide some valuable reps for Jackson Carman who posted a PFF grade of 68.8 (on the higher end of average) in his debut, coming in at .8 higher than Riley Reiff.

 

Injuries

The Bengals are headed into Thursday Night Football relatively unscathed, but they did suffer a potential loss of CB Chidobe Awuzie (groin). While it seems like he should be fine to play for now, a lot can change over the course of a few practices. As for Xavier Su’a Filo, he may or may not be back, but the short week will definitely make a return difficult. In better news, CB Tre Waynes is starting to look like he can make his first start as a Bengal after missing all of last season with a pec injury. His return will likely spell the end for former first-round pick Eli Apple as a starter.

 

Predictions

I think I speak for the majority of NFL fans when I say the Bengals should win this game, but it feels like somewhat of a trap game. I think Cincinnati should win 38-20 on Thursday and move to an excellent 3-1 record to close out the first quarter(ish) of the 2021 season. As I mentioned earlier, I would love to see Joe throw the deep ball a little more, so I predict he will have a 200-yard day with 2-3 touchdowns. Running wise, I think Joe Mixon will have a great game, but later in the game, it might make sense to sub him out with Samaje Perine or preferably Chris Evans, if the Bengals are up big, in order to keep him healthy to take on Green Bay the following Sunday.

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About the Writer
Nick Johnson
Nick Johnson, Editor-in-Chief
Nick Johnson is a third-year journalism student in his senior year. Nick is very involved around the school, as a peer counseling lead team member and doing PA announcing for the baseball team in the spring. He is also a leader of the Lakota West Student Broadcasting Club. Nick enjoys writing about sports, specifically football, as he is a huge NFL fan. Specifically, he is a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions. He also does writing for other sports, and you can read all of his articles and more here on the West Press.

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