Jacksonville Jaguars vs Cincinnati Bengals Matchup Preview (10/4/20): Betting Odds, Depth Charts, Live Stream
The Jaguars looked awesome in Week 1 but lost twice in four days to the Titans and Dolphins. It’s unfair to hold the Jaguars’ last game against them offensively, as Gardner Minshew struggled without his top wideout D.J. Chark and on a short week. However, the Jacksonville defense has struggled all year and they now sit at 1-2. Cincinnati had a golden opportunity to get its first win of the year against a poor Eagles team, but that game ended in a tie. Joe Burrow and the Bengals will be looking for their first win of the season at home after a disappointing start to the year. Neither of these teams is likely to make the playoffs last year and its more likely that they both draft inside the top five, but there’s intriguing up-and-coming talent on both of these teams that makes this a sneaky-fun game to watch. Will the Minshew Magic reappear this week or will Joe Exotic the Bengal King pull through with a huge win? We’ll find out this week, and I’ll break down the key matchups to watch. For odds movement and full matchup history, visit the Jacksonville Jaguars vs Cincinnati Bengals matchup page.
Date: Sunday, October 4th, 2020
Time: 1:00 PM ET
Location: Paul Brown Stadium – Cincinnati, Ohio
TV Coverage: CBS
Jaguars vs Bengals Live Stream
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Jacksonville Jaguars: WR D. Chark (chest) Q, LB L. Jacobs (knee) O, C B. Linder (knee) O, SAF A. Wingard (groin) Q, RB R. Armstead (COVID-19) O, K Josh Lambo (hip) O, K Brandon Wright (groin) O
Cincinnati Bengals: DT G. Atkins (shoulder) Q, TE C. Uzomah (Achilles) O, OG Xavier Sua-Filo (ankle) O, CB T. Waynes (pectoral) O
Jacksonville Jaguars Analysis
Outside of a poor effort against Miami, the Jaguars’ offense has been really good through three weeks. Per Football Outsiders’ DOVA, Jacksonville has had the 7th-best offense in football so far. Gardner Minshew has led Jacksonville to the 16th-best passing offense so far per Football Outsiders and has completed 73.8% of his passes for 787 yards with 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Minshew also has the 11th-best passer rating and the 14th-best QBR, per ESPN. Minshew is a very efficient passer and makes great reads downfield to find his open receivers. Minshew had 3,271 passing yards with 21 touchdowns and 6 interceptions last year.
Speaking of Minshew’s receivers, the Jaguars have an impressive collection of pass-catching talent. Keelan Cole ranks 13th in wide receiver DVOA per Football Outsiders as he has 15 catches for 148 yards and 2 touchdowns so far. Laviska Shenault has also impressed in his rookie season, catching 11 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown and adding 8 rushes for 48 yards. Even Chris Conley and tight end Tyler Eifert have contributed this year. Of course, D.J. Chark is still the team’s top wideout and he’s hopeful to make a return next week. Chark had 73 catches for 1,008 yards and 8 touchdowns last season. The Bengals have allowed the sixth-fewest passing yards this season as William Jackson and Jessie Bates have been great defensively, but the Jaguars have enough weapons to seriously challenge them.
The Jaguars’ ground game has been surprisingly effective so far as well – they have the 3rd-best rushing offense in football per Football Outsiders. Undrafted rookie runner James Robinson has impressed so far this season with 43 carries for 210 yards and 3 touchdowns as well as 10 catches for 129 yards. The Bengals have allowed the 2nd-most rushing yards per game this season so Robinson has another opportunity to produce a massive stat line this week. Cincy will hope to have Geno Atkins back from a shoulder injury this week, and he should boost their run defense, but Robinson should be able to move the chains in this matchup.
Defensively, the Jaguars are going through a ton of transition currently. Both of their first-round rookies, cornerback C.J. Henderson and defensive end K’Lavon Chaisson, have had flashes of brilliance early this season. Linebacker Myles Jack is one of the best at his position across the NFL, and Joe Schobert has 26 tackles, just 7 off from the league lead. The Jaguars have the 9th-best run defense in football this year per Football Outsiders, a surprisingly high mark especially after they lost Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakouwe over the offseason. However, their pass defense is ranked last in the NFL on Football Outsiders and as good as their rookies have looked, this is a beatable defense with several holes.
Jacksonville Jaguars Depth Chart
Cincinnati Bengals Analysis
The Bengals’ offense has not produced the way head coach Zach Taylor or their fans have hoped as Football Outsiders has them ranked as the sixth-worst offense in DVOA. Joe Burrow has shown flashes of solid play, but he is completing just 64.5% of his passes, the 11th-worst mark in the league, and is averaging just 5.8 yards per attempt, the second-lowest rate in football. Football Outsiders has Joe Burrow ranked as just the 27th-best quarterback in football so far in DVOA and he has some work to do before he’s a winning NFL quarterback. Of course, he’s still just 23 years old, and he has huge upside as he gets more comfortable in the NFL.
The Bengals do boast a legitimately stacked group of wide receivers to help Burrow on the field. Tyler Boyd and rookie Tee Higgins rank seventh and eighth respectively in Football Outsiders’ wide receiver DYAR. Boyd has 21 receptions so far this season, the sixth-most in the NFL. He had 10 catches for 125 yards last week and should be able to take advantage of D.J. Hayden, Jacksonville’s slot cornerback who has struggled this year. Higgins had five catches for 40 yards and 2 touchdowns last week and should continue to emerge as a highly talented rookie. A.J. Green leads the team in targets with 28, but he’s only caught 13 balls and hasn’t made the most of his opportunities. Higgins could continue to steal some of Green’s targets as the season goes on. Mike Thomas, John Ross, Auden Tate, Alex Erickson, and tight end Drew Sample are all capable of providing solid pass-catching play as well.
On the ground, Joe Mixon has struggled to make an impact so far, as he has run for just 3.2 yards per carry and hasn’t reached the end zone yet. However, he has the sixth-most carries in the NFL and the efficiency should improve as the season goes on. Mixon excelled last year, even behind a similarly terrible offensive line, and I expect him to get more involved in the passing game over the course of the season. Giovani Bernard has stolen a lot of his pass-catching work so far as he has 15 targets, the third-most on the team, compared to just 9 for Cincy. Regardless of whether its been Mixon or Bernard, the Bengals have the second-worst rushing offense so far per Football Outsiders and this needs to improve to make life easier on Burrow.
The Bengals’ defense has been surprisingly strong this year as they rank 9th in defensive DVOA per Football Outsiders. Their pass defense has been especially strong – they’re Football Outsiders’ 8th-best passing defense. William Jackson has been a lockdown corner this year and Jessie Bates has flown all over the field and provided excellent coverage. The Bengals’ defensive success is particularly surprising when you consider how many should-be starters are missing – defensive tackle Geno Atkins, cornerback Trae Waynes, defensive tackle Mike Daniels, and safety Shawn Williams should have been strong contributors on the defensive side of the ball this year and all are dealing with significant injuries. The Bengals aren’t as far away as some would have you believe.
Cincinnati Bengals Depth Chart
Spread: Bengals -3, Jaguars +3
Moneyline: Bengals -167, Jaguars +138
Both the Bengals and Jaguars are 2-1 against the spread this season and this game opened at an even 3-point line, suggesting these teams would be about even on a neutral playing field. I disagree with that takeaway from the first three weeks as the Jaguars have proven more this season. Gardner Minshew is going to be challenged by William Jackson and Jessie Bates in the secondary, but if D.J. Chark returns this week (which he’s trending towards), I expect this offense to still be able to move the ball. Remember – this Jaguars team hung 27 points on the Colts (Football Outsiders’ best defense by DVOA) and 30 on the Titans (16th-best defense, 11th-best passing defense).
Joe Burrow could find it difficult to move the ball against this defense as Jacksonville’s strong run defense will likely make it difficult for the Bengals to establish the ground game early on. C.J. Henderson should provide excellent defense on the outside against A.J. Green or Tee Higgins, and while Tyler Boyd has a huge matchup advantage, he might not be enough to move the needle. Burrow will need to produce on the ground in this game, and he may find that difficult against a Jaguars defense that has allowed just 53 total rushing yards to quarterbacks through the first three weeks.
I believe this over/under total is right where it should be as both of these defenses has holes that the opposing offense can exploit. I’ll give a slight edge to the under in this game as these two teams have scored a combined 45.3 points per game, but it could really go either way. It could come down to whether or not there is a high number of turnovers – these teams have combined for 7 turnovers so far this season, a surprisingly low amount for two of the worse teams in the league.
It is worth noting that the Bengals could have a slight special teams advantage as the Jaguars will be moving to their third kicker of the season after injuries to Josh Lambo and Brandon Wright. Jacksonville did sign Stephen Hauschka who hit 78.6% of his field goals during his last NFL season, but Cincy’s Randy Bullock is hitting 88.9% of his field goals this year. The Bengals have also been a great return team as Brandon Wilson has averaged 39 yards per kick return this season.
I’m picking Jacksonville to get back to Minshew Magic this week with the return of D.J. Chark providing a boost to their entire offense. This Jaguars’ team is so much better than everyone suggested before the season and they have the necessary tools to win this game. With 10 days of rest after a disappointing loss to the Dolphins in primetime, the Jaguars will be coming into this with plenty of rest and a massive chip on their shoulder. I love Gardner Minshew in this spot for a bounce-back and I think the Bengals may have to wait a week before getting in the win column.
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Daily Fantasy Picks (DraftKings)
Joe Burrow ($6,300) takes on the Jaguars’ defense this week, a unit that ranks last in the league in pass defense per Football Outsiders. Burrow has scored 23.1 fantasy points per game so far and took advantage of a similarly overmatched passing defense in Week 2 with 28.5 points. The Jaguars have done a solid job of defending running QBs so far, but Burrow’s rushing gives him a solid baseline and this could be a multi-touchdown performance for the rookie with all of the weapons at his disposal.
I mentioned the matchup between D.J. Hayden and Tyler Boyd above, but I’ll elaborate more on that here. Boyd ($6,100) caught 10 passes for 125 yards last week and appears to be Joe Burrow’s favorite target as he leads the team in catches. Per PFF, Hayden allows 2.17 yards per snap when in coverage, the 13th-worst mark in the NFL. Boyd should be open all day in this matchup and Burrow will look his way as a safe, over-the-middle receiving option. I’m very intrigued by the Burrow-Boyd stack for DraftKings this week.
The Bengals’ defense has been generous to running backs this season, and their run defense has been their biggest weakness this season. Football Outsiders has them ranked as the 11th-worst run defense this year. Robinson ($6,500) should be able to take advantage of the matchup and his continually growing role in the passing game gives him an awesome upside – he had 6 catches for 83 yards last week.
The Jaguars have been weak against tight ends this season, allowing the third-most fantasy points to the position through three games. Drew Sample ($3,500) only saw 1 target last week, but he’s a young and up-and-coming player who you can add to your DraftKings lineup for cheap. He’s a solid punt play at the tight end position last week and I’ll likely be including him in a lineup or two to diversify.
Keelan Cole ($4,500) has been very impressive this year, ranking as Football Outsiders’ 13th-best wideout this season. If D.J. Chark is able to return in this game, he’ll likely draw William Jackson in coverage frequently, leaving Cole to work against Darius Phillips who hasn’t been nearly as good this season. Gardner Minshew is likely going to have a much better game than we saw from him last week and Cole should benefit with a great outing. At that cheap price and with his high-end WR2 upside, he’s a strong play this week.