Yet another week, yet another Thursday Night Football matchup featuring two powerhouse teams. Kidding, of course, but it seems like us football die-hards are coaxed into watching games on Thursday nights featuring two of the least exciting teams in the league every single week.
If you’re a casual fan of football, you’re probably not licking your chops to get a peek at these two notably boring teams going head-to-head, but if you’re like me – you just want to see chaos. This is the game for you.
These two quarterbacks, Joe Burrow of the Bengals and Trevor Lawrence of the Jaguars, have combined for 11 interceptions in the first three games of the season, with the majority of them coming from Lawrence with seven.
Neither quarterback has looked sharp, but neither have these defenses. It’s a real battle between who can look worse between both quarterbacks and both defenses tonight – which makes this game extremely hard to predict from a betting standpoint.
However, I did the hard work so you don’t have to. Let’s get into what I think is the right play in this hit-or-miss game tonight.
The Bengals opened up on many sportsbooks on Monday as 7.5 point favorites at home vs. a streaking Jaguars team. Like I mentioned, Lawrence has thrown seven interceptions in three games and this team hasn’t looked really competitive in any game they’ve played leading to an 0-3 record.
The Bengals on the other hand have been hot-and-cold coming out of the gates. It took until overtime to take down the Vikings in a high-scoring affair before falling flat on their faces against a lackluster Bears team. The Bengals came out hot against the Steelers last week and took the game in a relatively easy manner.
Their peaks and valleys as a team so far into the season have been mind-numbing, deeming them as a “can’t trust team” for me to start the season. No one really knows who they are, but recency bias is tricking the public into thinking they are a force to be reckoned with.
While I think that Joe Burrow is a solid starter and that offense has some serious young talent, I haven’t seen enough to be sold on them as a team that should have high expectations for the rest of the season.
This leads into my pick. The game is in Cincinnati, but that shouldn’t dissuade bettors to the fact that they have some crazy home-field advantage. The Bengals under Zac Taylor are 6-10 in Cincinnati since he came on as their head coach in 2019.
Yes, they’ve had bad teams, but they have given me no reason to believe they are to be viewed in a drastically different light this year. Let us not forget that this vaunted Bears team that the Rams and Browns have mopped the floor with was up 20-3 in the fourth quarter just two weeks ago against the Bengals. Joe Burrow threw three interceptions in that game.
If the Bears played the Jaguars right now, what do you realistically think would be a fair spread? My mind jumps to around Bears -4.5 or something along those lines.
The Bears beat the Bengals.
I could go on and on about the matchups in this game, but I’ll save you the pointless reading and get right into the statistics.
Most people know that when Vegas creates these lines, they are solely trying to get a 50/50 split on the spreads to guarantee themselves money. However, most sites I am seeing are showing the public is riding the Bengals heavily, with between 75-85% of the bets on the Bengals spread (-7.5).
In layman’s terms, if the Bengals cover the spread tonight, Vegas will lose a lot of money (in that game, I’m sure they will be fine in the long run). But like I said, the fact that the public is riding the Bengals so hard and the line hasn’t moved at all indicates to me that Vegas is confident that the Jaguars will cover the spread tonight.
Trevor Lawrence was the #1 overall pick this year for a reason, he’s not going to look this awful forever. He’s immensely talented, and this offense isn’t as bad as it has been advertised so far. The Bengals don’t have much talent on defense to begin with, but their all-pro safety Jessie Bates will not play.
I hate betting on bad teams, which the Jaguars certainly are, but I have a hard time believing the Bengals are 7.5 points better than any team in the NFL, not just the Jaguars.
My pick for the night is Jaguars +7.5.