Week 4 starts like Week 3 started. A rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach face long odds on Thursday Night Football as the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals battle it out on the banks of the Ohio River. Carolina won and covered easily against Houston facing a first-year QB and first-year HC. Will the Bengals do the same?
We've got a market report on the game from South Point director Chris Andrews and best bets from Adam Burke and Dave Tuley as Week 3 kicks off.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals (-7.5, 46)
Market report from Chris Andrews: I opened Bengals -8. Sharps took the eight. So, I dropped to -7.5. Public money has come in pretty strong on Cincinnati at -7.5. I have a feeling I’ll go back to eight. Pretty clear so far that smart money likes the Jaguars at + 8 or better. Recreational bettors don’t want any part of the Jags, as bad as that team has played so far this season. Teaser play has been strong already on Cincinnati. That’s one of those games that crosses by the 7 and the 3 with a six-point move for a teaser leg. Sharps love that strategy. The public will do it with favorites (like the Bengals here), but not short underdogs moving up. I’ll talk more about that in my weekend market report article. Ticket count so far counting parlays and teasers is about 5/1 to the Bengals.
Burke: We’ve had quite a run on primetime overs thus far with eight of the nine games coming in higher than the posted total. The one that did not go over feels pretty similar to this game. That was Panthers vs. Texans on Thursday night in Week 3. This game sets up the same way.
In last week’s game, we had a rookie QB and a rookie HC for the Texans with Davis Mills and David Culley. In this one, we have Trevor Lawrence and Urban Meyer. We know that Meyer has vastly more head coaching experience than Culley and Lawrence’s accomplishments and ceiling far surpass Mills. That being said, it is still a fast turnaround for a Jaguars offense that looks completely out of sync and a head coach that has already expressed how hard the NFL is on a weekly basis.
As impressive as the start to the season has been for Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, the Bengals have managed just 5.4 yards per play through three games. The Chicago game is something of an outlier out of the three with 4.5 YPP, but this still is not an offense that anybody projected to be explosive.
The Bengals have only scored on one-third of their drives, but have also limited the opposition to points on 26.5 percent of their possessions. Jacksonville has only scored on 17.1 percent of their drives. Opponents have scored on 44.4 percent, but the Jaguars also have nine turnovers. They’ve actually been pretty stingy on third down and deserve some credit for not getting completely run over in the red zone.
The under 46 looks to be the pick here. The defenses are still ahead of the offenses for these two teams and a short week with young quarterbacks is likely to lead to pretty basic game-plans for both sides.
Pick: Under 46
Another pick that makes a lot of sense in this game is to tease Cincinnati down to -1.5 and pair the Bengals with another team on Sunday. For me, that team will be the New Orleans Saints teased down to -2.
The Bengals should win this game. Their defense has been impressive and the offense looks to be a bit further along than Jacksonville’s at this point. The fact that it is a short week for the Jaguars with travel and that the Bengals get to be at home while playing well is enough to put Cincinnati in a teaser.
There are a lot of teaser candidates with Cincinnati, so pick your favorite one, but the Saints are my other team.
Pick: Cincinnati Bengals (-1.5)/New Orleans Saints (-2) two-team, 6-pt teaser
Tuley: We usually love to fade overachieving teams like the Bengals (2-1, tied for first in AFC North) when they’re put in the unfamiliar favorite’s role, but it’s hard to pull the trigger on the Jaguars again.
I had them + 7.5 on Sunday vs. the Cardinals. They were hanging in great at 7-7, and then Jamal Agnew returned a missed FG attempt for an NFL-record 109 yards to actually give the Jaguars a 14-7 halftime lead. And they still couldn’t cover.
I’m assuming the oddsmakers felt they couldn’t make the Bengals double-digit favorites since the line was Bengals -2.5 over the summer and -6.5 on the advance line last week, but I still feel this line is short. Having said all that, I’m still not willing to lay more than a touchdown. I feel the best way to play this game is to start some teasers with the Bengals (taking them down to -1.5 in a 6-point teaser) and include Sunday games such as Falcons + 7.5, Titans -1.5, Vikings + 8, Saints -2, Chiefs -1 and Ravens + 7.5.
Pick: Bengals to start 6-point teasers