Thursday Night Football NFL Week 4 – Jaguars vs. Bengals (September 30, 2021)

By Dan Vasta in NFL
| September 28, 2021 12:31 pm PDT

The Bengals and Jaguars will entertain us for Thursday Night Football to kick off week four. The number of young players lining up for this national primetime matchup is intriguing.

Joe Burrow was the number one pick two years ago, and we saw Trevor Lawrence become the top pick in this past NFL Draft. There is a possibility that both squads light up the scoreboards with a lack of defensive stars on the field.

Burrow has been getting more from Joe Mixon, his backfield mate. The Bengals can use him in the receiving department, but Jacksonville has not had the same production from their running back, James Robinson.

The ability to hold up at the line of scrimmage has been an issue, but the Jaguars lack punch in the trenches. Lawrence has been under duress, and that has led to their slow start.

The Bengals are looking to continue their momentum, which they garnered this past week against the Steelers.

The AFC North is a challenging division and could get multiple teams in the postseason. There aren’t many manageable games for either of these squads, so this should be a highly competitive ballgame.

Here are the latest odds for this clash on Thursday Night Football, per BetOnline.

Jaguars vs. Bengals Odds

Jaguars (+7.5)-115
Bengals (-7.5)-105
Jaguars to Win+280
Bengals to Win-350
Over 46-110
Under 46-110

The Bengals have been struggling as home favorites lately, going 2-4 against the spread. All the point spreads in those games were under four points, so we don’t see the experts in the desert showing much love to Cincinnati.

The last time we saw them as six-point favorites or more was back in the 2018 season against Miami. The Dolphins have covered three of their past four games as an underdog of six-plus points. Cincinnati has covered three of their past four home games in which they have been laying at least a touchdown.

It is time to further dissect this AFC matchup by looking at the keys to victory.

Why the Jaguars Will Win

The offense of Jacksonville needs more balance. James Robinson has had issues finding running room like he did last season. We finally saw him get going this past week in their loss to Arizona.

Here’s his week three stat line.

  • 15 carries
  • 88 rushing yards
  • 9 YPC
  • 1 TD
  • 6 catches
  • 46 receiving yards

Teams have done a much better job preparing for the second year back out of Illinois State.

As a rookie, Robinson ran for over 1,000 yards with seven scores on the ground. He needs to be a stud for Jacksonville to pull this upset off.

Lawrence has a bright future and can make plays as a runner, but getting rid of the ball quicker will keep them in the game. D.J. Chark Jr. and Marvin Jones Jr. can produce when Lawrence can hit them in stride. Jones has been more of a reliable downfield target, but the team is hoping for a healthy Laviska Shenault Jr. to be more of a factor.

Health has been vital thus far in the NFL, with dozens of studs getting hurt in the opening month of the season. The Jacksonville defense has been abysmal through three weeks, but Burrow has turned the ball over with pressure in his face.

Why the Bengals Will Win

Joe Burrow will help shore things up on offense. They should have time to scan the field and find open targets. Tyler Boyd has been picking up momentum out of the slots these past few weeks with the hobbled Tee Higgins (shoulder) not healthy.

Higgins is vital, but Boyd and Ja’Marr Chase have performed admirably next to Burrow.

Joe Mixon is a stud out of the backfield, and the Cincy offense has used him as much as possible.

The ability to haul passes out of the flats is crucial. Their offense is capable of exploding against the opposition.

The Bengal offense may not have a healthy Tee Higgins (shoulder), but they have been far more productive than the Jaguars. Chase just became the youngest player ever to haul in four receiving touchdowns in the first three weeks.

They may not be ready for a push to the postseason, but I expect more than a handful of wins. They should win this national primetime clash if they can avoid costly turnovers.

Jaguars vs. Bengals Prediction

This game is going to be a fun one Thursday night. Many want playoff teams for every non-Sunday matchup, but that is not how it works. Every NFL team gets at least one primetime game, and many don’t get a Sunday or Monday matchup.

Thursday will do just fine for these, and the battle of quarterbacks will garner attention. We saw these two in the CFP National Championship three years ago when LSU won it all over Clemson. Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence are two of the better youngsters in the league.

They both have enough pieces to find success in the immediate future. The AFC North is the more challenging division, but Jacksonville wants to get off the schneid here.

I don’t foresee it coming on the road against the more physical team on both sides of the ball.

Burrow will start to thread the needle even more as the weeks progress. The Bengals snuck one out in the season-opener, and this should be another nail-biter that goes their way.

Jaguars vs. Bengals Pick

I love the chances of the Bengals winning this one, but there is value on the Jaguars.

Trevor Lawrence has not had a great start to his rookie campaign, but he has faced some adversity as most rookies do.

I am looking for a game that comes down to the final possession. The Bengals will pull this game off, but the pick is to take the Jaguars with the points on the road.

Pick
  • Jaguars (+7.5)
    -115

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