The Jacksonville Jaguars are currently getting one point in most sports books against the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend, despite being at home. The Jaguars are just 1-2 on the season, picking up their first win against the Indianapolis Colts thanks to an 80-yard touchdown pass from Blaine Gabbert to Cecil Shorts III late in the football game.
The Jaguars and Bengals matched up during the 2011 season, and was one of the handful of games that the Jaguars could have potentially won if not for some late game mistakes. The Jaguars ultimately lost the game 30-20, but it was much closer than the score indicated.
The Jaguars offense was able to actually hit a few big plays, including a 74-yard touchdown pass from Gabbert to Jason Hill and a 25-yard run by Maurice Jones-Drew. Gabbert ended the day with 221 passing yards and a touchdown, but turned the ball over twice on two fumbles, including a bad snap by center Brad Meester.
I asked Josh Kirkendall of SB Nation's Bengals blog Cincy Jungle what his biggest fear on the Jaguars offense was:
Maurice Jones-Drew: An obvious selection for an obviously poor rushing defense. The Bengals are currently ranked 31st in the NFL against the run, allowing an average 155.0 yards/rush with mediocre performances from the team's linebackers and a defensive line unable to establish any control on the line of scrimmage.
On the defensive side of the football, the Jaguars harassed Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton sacking him twice, but hitting him six more times. Defensive end Jeremy Mincey had a big day in the game, constantly causing disruption in the backfield.
Joe Goodberry of Cincy Jungle told us what his biggest fear on the Jaguars defense was:
Jeremy Mincey: He's very tough, hard worker and very strong. Good against run and good pass rusher from outside and inside. Gave Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth and Nate Livings fits last year. He's a very good player.
For the 2012 version of this matchup, both defenses are struggling to stop other teams offenses. The Bengals rank 31st against the run through three games this season, which would lead most to believe that the Jaguars should just hand the ball off to Jones-Drew and call it a day.
Oddly enough, the Jaguars should do just the offense. The Bengals have struggled stopping the pass as well. With the Jaguars getting healthy on the offensive line once again, the Jaguars need to take the training wheels on the offense and let loose. There were some plays down the field against the Colts in Week 3 that should have been big plays, but the pass protection just couldn't hold up.
If Eugene Monroe and Cameron Bradfield can slow down the pass rush of Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap, Gabbert should have time to throw the ball and the receivers a chance to get downfield. The interior offensive line is going to have to also contain Geno Atkins, to make sure he doesn't disrupt the interior of the pocket and allow Gabbert to step up into his throws.
Official prediction: Jaguars 27, Bengals 26.