Welcome to Big Cat Country’s weekly roundtable, where our staff previews each Jacksonville Jaguars game and makes picks for each NFL game. The Jaguars are favored by 9 points against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
Which player has to stack a few big games during the Jaguars’ upcoming stretch against the Bengals, Browns and Ravens?
Dillon Appleman: Travis Etienne has not averaged over 4 yards per carry in a game since Week 5, as the Jags’ rushing attack has gone from a strength to a weakness in short order. He has got to get rolling during this stretch against three teams that specialize in getting after the passer to take some pressure off Lawrence.
Justin Cross: I’ll say the offensive line. Trevor has stacked big games against Houston and Tennessee, and that’s in major part due to how well he’s been protected in the last two weeks. They’ll be tested big time in these next three games — especially Cleveland and Baltimore, who are at the very top of the league in overall defense and can get after the quarterback like San Francisco. With Cam Robinson out, Walker Little has stepped in at left tackle and Ezra Cleveland will start at left guard. Cleveland played well against Houston, and hopefully Little can raise his play to the level of last season when Robinson was out.
Joseph Henry: The opposing offensive production Jacksonville has on tap in the next three weeks, despite some QB injuries, is still nothing to scoff at. Cornerback Darious Williams needs to perform to the standard seen during the front half of the season. The hope is Tyson Campbell will back on the other side of the field soon, perhaps even on Monday, but until he’s 100% Williams needs to prepare for matchups with the likes of Ja’Marr Chase, Zay Flowers and Amari Cooper.
Travis Holmes: I’m going with Ezra Cleveland here, just based on the potential domino effects for the rest of the offensive line. If Ezra can convincingly stabilize the left guard spot during Cam Robinson’s injured reserve timeframe, there is a non-zero chance the lineup we see over the next four games could be the starting line in the playoffs. These should be some solid matchups against quality defensive tackles such as DJ Reader, Vita Vea, Michael Pierce, and Justin Madubuike.
Gus Logue: Trevor Lawrence has to keep doing his thing. Over the past two weeks, he leads all quarterbacks in total Expected Points Added (EPA) and ranks second in passing yards, yards per attempt, and yards per game. Lawrence’s average depth of target has jumped a full yard and a half after the 49ers loss (7.0 to 8.5). Expect Jacksonville’s coaches to continue letting Lawrence cook in primetime against a vulnerable Cincinatti squad. Though the Browns and Ravens -- which rank first and second, respectively, in EPA allowed per dropback -- will be bigger tests, a clean performance against Lou Anarumo’s defense on national television comes first.
Adam Snowden: I’m gonna cheat a bit here and say Trevor Lawrence. His performance over the last couple of games has been nothing short of excellent, and considering his dominant stretch at the end of last season, I have little concern for him moving forward. However, his performance is dependent upon the performance of other units, namely the offensive line and the pass-catching core. The newfound success of the Jaguars offense these past two weeks has been predicated upon good protection and Ridley’s resurgence. Looking ahead, the Jags will face arguably the top two defenses in the NFL right now in the Ravens and the Browns, which have both done an excellent job getting to the quarterback and locking down opposing receivers. Considering that Lawrence can only do so well without time in the pocket and a target to throw to, a “big game” from Lawrence all but guarantees a strong performance from pass protection and likely the continued success of Calvin Ridley. So yeah, give me a “big game” from Lawrence.
Henry Zimmer: I don’t think anyone would be upset if Calvin Ridley started having games like he did on Sunday. While it was solely a second-half effort from Ridley, a complete game out of him can only help the overall offense and its effectiveness. If the Jags struggle to run the ball against good defenses in the next few weeks, the passing game will have to continue to be successful. Ridley having a few 100-plus yard outings can go a long way towards that.
What are you most excited to watch for during Monday Night Football?
Dillon: I’ve kind of given up on getting excited about the national media getting an extended look at how good Trevor is, because they will find any way to discredit it. This time it will be because he’s facing Jake Browning. So I’ll say that I’m most excited to see if Etienne can get things going against a Bengals defense allowing 5 yards per carry this season (31st).
Justin: The last time the Jaguars played the Bengals on national TV, Urban Meyer didn’t catch the plane flight home (but unfortunately, did make it back to Jacksonville to coach a few more games). So, let’s just say, the bar isn’t incredibly high. In all seriousness, the energy and atmosphere in the stadium. I’ll be watching from California, which won’t be nearly as exciting as being there. I was in Jax last season for all the home games and the playoff run, and it was electric. And with Joe Burrow out and the continued offensive growth we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks, this is a good opportunity for the Jaguars to blow out another team on national TV. The only way to shift the small market, lack of respect narrative is to win and win big when you’re in the spotlight.
Joseph: I want to see Travis Etienne get back in the endzone. The Bengals’ defense allows the second-most yards per carry in the NFL, so Jacksonville’s ground game should have ample opportunity to get going again. Hopefully some primetime action will be exactly what Etienne needs to snap his four-game skid without a touchdown.
Travis: The injury to Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow has certainly taken some of the excitement from this one for me, as the matchup of Tyson Campbell/Darius Williams versus Ja’Marr Chase hits a little differently when the passes are coming from Jake Browning. Based on that update, I’m probably most excited to see if the Calvin Ridley Resurgence Train keeps rolling forward on Monday for a third consecutive week.
Gus: Obviously, the Bro Bowl between Jacksonville’s Press Taylor and Cincinnatti’s Zac Taylor. Similar to quarterback rivalries, the Taylors won’t actually match up against each other since they each coach offense, but their roles are paramount. The Jaguars’ offense should be able to march down the field against the Bengals (26th in EPA allowed per play, 30th in success rate allowed) but red zone efficiency will be vital; the Jags have a knack for shooting themselves in the foot in scoring position, while Lou Anaruno’s defense leads the league in red zone turnovers (6). As for Zac, he’s gotta prove his worth as a playcaller with Jake Browning in at quarterback against an Assistant Coach of the Year candidate in Mike Caldwell.
Adam: While the “bro bowl” has been getting all the hype (Bengals head coach Zac Taylor is the older brother of Jaguars offensive coordinator Press Taylor), I’m particularly intrigued to watch how key Jaguars defenders match up against elite pieces on the Bengals offense, namely Darious Williams and Tyson Campbell (or Montaric Brown, if Campbell remains out) versus Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, who is expected to return this week from injury. The Jaguars have yet to face a top 3 receiver like Chase this year (though an argument can be made for Stefon Diggs), and the Bengals have arguably the best wide receiver duo in the league. It will be interesting to see how our typically-solid pass defense fares. Granted, Chase and Higgins will have Jake Browning throwing them the ball, but the Jags have been burned by backup quarterbacks before. With so many elite options, the Bengals offense is not to be overlooked. Bonus answer: Watch for Josh Allen to rack up another sack or two against the Bengals offensive line, which has allowed 11 sacks over the past 3 games.
Henry: As someone who will be in attendance for the game, I think I am most excited to watch the crowd. With the first Monday Night Football game in Jacksonville in ages, seeing how Duval responds will be a welcome sight. I have no doubt it will be loud and packed and an overall positive for Jacksonville in the eyes of the NFL landscape. A big win here could be a stepping stone towards bigger games to come.
Final score prediction?
Dillon: Jaguars 30, Bengals 13
Justin: Jaguars 31, Bengals 14
Joseph: Jaguars 27, Bengals 13
Travis: Jaguars 30, Bengals 13
Gus: Jaguars 30, Bengals 10
Adam: Jaguars 27, Bengals 20
Henry: Jaguars 30, Bengals 17
Here are our staff’s Tallysight picks for the full slate of games this week.
What are your Week 13 predictions, Jaguars fans? Let us know in the comments!