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Five Things to Watch in Jacksonville Jaguars vs Cincinnati Bengals Matchup

Coming into the season, this game featured two of the best up-and-coming quarterbacks in the game, but with Burrow out, it will not.
Bengals vs Jaguars

The Jaguars and Bengals are both good teams that were built in similar fashions. Both franchises drafted a quarterback No. 1 overall, in 2020 and 2021, and both quarterbacks have panned out. After drafting those quarterbacks, both franchises surrounded them with talent at running back and receiver. Both teams struggle on the offensive and defensive line of scrimmage. In the five years leading up to drafting Joe Burrow, the Bengals had 25 wins. In Burrow’s second year, the team made the playoffs. In the five years leading up to drafting Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars had 25 wins. In Lawrence’s second year, the team made the playoffs.

While the Bengals have had more success recently, the Jaguars seem to have a higher ceiling. On Monday night, however, none of those statistics matter. This week’s primetime matchup pits two evenly matched and similarly built teams with one huge difference, Joe Burrow is out and Jake Browning is in. Burrow’s injury takes a lot of the shine off of this game, but it should still entertaining. Even with the Jaguars playing at home, there are a lot of things to still like about this Cincinnati Bengals team.

Browning vs Lawrence Is Not What the Schedule Makers Envisioned

While the biggest difference in this game is obviously the quarterback position, it is not the only difference. There are a lot of reasons to believe this could still be a close game and even more reasons to believe it should be an easy win for the Jaguars. Here are some things to look out for Monday night.

They Are the Bengals, Not the ‘Fighting Joe Burrows’

The Cincinnati Bengals are a good football team. They are not as good without their franchise quarterback, but good football teams win games even under adversity. In 2021 they lost the Super Bowl by three points followed by a run to the AFC Championship last year. The Bengals then rebuilt their offensive line and came into the 2023 season as one of the favorites to reach the Super Bowl again. You cannot do that with just a quarterback, and there is always a chance that this team finds a second gear.

The Bengals Defense Is Not Good

The problem with the 2023 Bengals is that their defense is not good. They are 29th in rushing yards allowed, 26th in passing yards allowed, and 31st in total yards per game just ahead of the Chargers. When your defense is this bad and your quarterback gets hurt, it is difficult to win. In the 10 games this season that Burrow started, the Bengals were only 5-5, and that has a lot to do with this defense.

The Jaguars Rush Defense Is Top Five

When your quarterback goes down, your run game becomes much more important. The Jaguars rush defense so far this year is ranked fourth in the NFL in yards per game. Their inside linebackers and the interior of the defensive line have been stout against the run all year. Couple that fact with the fact that the Bengals rush offense is dead last in the NFL, and this game could be a disaster. Mixon has shown some talent in the past, and he could break out with a big game. However, the combination of an excellent Jaguars rush defense and a horrendous Bengals running game could make for a long day for Jake Browning.

Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins Still Play For the Bengals

The Bengals receiving duo of Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase is one of the best in football. Not even the Calvin Ridley-Christian Kirk combo in Jacksonville compares to the Bengals receivers. They get open, they stretch the field, and they catch everything close to them. If Browning can get his legs underneath him in this game and figure out the offense, he certainly has some weapons at his disposal.

Lawrence > Browning Is the Key

You can almost disregard all of the points above this one. The key to this matchup is that Lawrence is playing and Burrow is not. To be more specific, the key to this matchup is that Jake Browning is the Bengals quarterback. Good teams in today’s NFL are built around the quarterback. On top of that, Joe Burrow is one of the best in the league. With him on the bench for the rest of the season, the Bengals are going to struggle to get above .500. The Jaguars, on the other hand, have their franchise quarterback. Lawrence is coming off a season-high 364 yards with a rushing and passing touchdown. He seems to have found his stride over the past two games, and when that happens this team is dangerous. With Burrow out and Lawrence in, the Jaguars should win this one going away.

Main Photo Credit: Syndication: The Indianapolis Star


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