One of the biggest stories in the NFL this year has been the constant injuries to quarterbacks that have completely derailed the team’s season. Unfortunately, the Bengals are victims of this unfortunate circumstance. Joe Burrow had injuries to start the year but was officially injured for the remainder of the season following the Bengals' Thursday night loss to the Ravens. It’s extremely unfortunate that it played out this way, because a quarterback matchup between Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence would be a must-see on TV and could help the Jaguars' defense improve against elite-level quarterbacks -- something they will have to continue to do if a postseason run is in their future.
Despite this injury, and while I don’t want to downplay its significance, Burrow doesn’t make the tackles, catch the touchdowns, or run the ball. Football is probably the most popular team sport in the world, and there are still great players on this team. In this article, I will highlight one player on the offense and one player on the defense on this stout Bengals team to look out for.
First, the offensive side of the ball. While most people think I will say Ja’Marr Chase, there is something a little different I would like to highlight. This Jaguars secondary is very good, and with no Burrow, the Bengals will have trouble getting the ball to Chase. Though he had 81 yards against the Steelers, Chase only caught 4 passes, one of his lowest marks on the season. The Jaguars do a good job at group tackling and will be able to limit his production.
For me, the offensive player to watch is running back Joe Mixon. While he too had injuries to start the year, Mixon’s health is improving, and Cincinnati will look to him to carry most of the load tonight.
Josh Allen and Travon Walker have been consistently getting to quarterbacks and causing lots of pressure, but the running game is where they will focus more of their attention. Jake Browning is the quarterback for the Bengals, and he will be brought down without having to bring pressure -- there will most definitely be lots of coverage sacks. Primetime games are usually low-scoring, which means the running game should be in full effect for this Bengals offense. Since Week 7, the Jaguars rank 30th in rushing Expected Points Added (EPA) per play. If the Jaguars want to control this game early, the opposing rushing attack will need to be stopped.
While no one defensively really stands out to me on this Bengals team, that does not mean this is a cakewalk. This defense plays as a team, tackles very well, and takes advantage of mistakes made by the offense.
One player to highlight would be nose tackle D.J. Reader. While he’s having a down year compared to previous accomplished seasons, Reader is still a force to be reckoned with. Although Etienne is good to go for Monday Night Football, the Jaguars will have to rotate through running backs to keep fresh legs in the game, or Reader will make his presence known.
This Bengals team has most definitely been hit with the injury bug this game, and that is unfortunate because this game would be a must-see on TV. Despite the Burrow injury, this Bengals team still has players all over the field, and if the Jaguars want to win this game, they will have to focus on taking the players mentioned in this article out of the game.