Breakdowns

Thursday Night Preview: Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals

Trevor Lawrence

Here’s a preview of Thursday night’s matchup between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals, courtesy of STAT Stack:

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (0-3) at CINCINNATI BENGALS (2-1)

Line: Bengals -7.5, Total: 46

ONE THING THAT EVERY FAN NEEDS TO KNOW

  • Things Get Worse Before They Get Better

The Jacksonville Jaguars became an NFL franchise in 1995 and gained success rather quickly: in just their 2nd season in existence, they made it to the ‘96 AFC Championship game. They would go on to make the playoffs another three consecutive seasons, totaling four straight appearances from ‘96-99. But, since the 2000 season, the Jags have made the playoffs just three times TOTAL, with their last appearance coming in 2017 (an AFC Championship loss to the Patriots). In fact, that ‘17 season is the only time the Jags finished above .500 since ‘07. Over the past 10 regular seasons, the Jags have the worst record in the entire NFL: 44-116 (28% winning pct.).

To add to that, they are amid one of the worst losing streaks in NFL history. The Jags have dropped 18 straight games dating back to Week 1 of last season, when they beat the Colts 27-20. Only two teams have lost more than 18-straight games in the Super Bowl era: the 2007-09 Detroit Lions (19 games) and the 1976-77 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who lost 26 consecutive contests.

TOP TRENDS THAT EVERY SPORTS BETTOR NEEDS TO KNOW

  • Downward Trending Jags

At the beginning of the season, Vegas puts out lines on every game throughout the entire year. When this game opened in the preseason, Jacksonville was just a 2.5-point underdog. However, after three straight double-digit losses and two impressive wins by the Bengals over the Vikings and Steelers, this line has ballooned to Bengals -7.5. And the public isn’t scared away by the big number, either: Action Network is reporting that 71% of the tickets and 60% of the money is on Cincinnati. They have, however, tracked some sharp action (pro bettors) on the Jags.

  • They Don’t Cover, Either

We noted at the top of this post about the Jaguars recent futility – and it extends to their record against-the-spread, as well. Over their last 17 games, Jacksonville is 5-12 ATS and has lost 6 of their last 7. The Bengals, on the other hand, have been very good against the number with Joe Burrow under center. Excluding the game when Burrow got hurt last year – the Bengals were winning when Burrow’s season was ended by a knee injury, and they would go on to lose the game and the cover – the Bengals have an 8-3-1 record ATS in Burrow’s starts. However, this game will mark just the second time in the young signal-caller’s career where his team is the favorite. The last time Burrow’s Bengals were favored? Last season against Jacksonville (the Bengals won 33-25, covering the 1-point spread).

ANALYTICAL ANALYSIS THAT EVERY SPORTS NERD NEEDS TO KNOW

  • Oh, Trevor…

Everyone knows the headlines: Trevor Lawrence is tied for the league lead in INTs (7, with follow rookie Zach Wilson), has the worst completion percentage in the NFL (54.2%), the second lowest QB Rating (Zach Wilson), and his team is 0-3, losing every game by double-digits. OK, that’s what the traditional numbers say. What do the advanced analytics say? Well, they say he’s been pretty terrible, as well.

According to Pro Football Focus, among QBs who have taken at least 150 snaps this season, Lawrence is the worst-graded passer in the league at 46.6 (out of 100). The next-lowest, Taylor Heinicke, is over 8 points higher. For reference, Zach Wilson is more than 10 points better, graded at 56.9. Lawrence’s completion percentage of 54.2% is 8.4 points less than his expected completion percentage (xCOMP%), which is the second-worst mark in the league, ahead of only Zach Wilson who has a COMP% that is 8.6 points lower than his xCOMP%. Lawrence has also thrown the highest percentage of uncatchable targets in the NFL, at 33%. That means that one out of every three throws that the former Clemson QB makes are in a spot where his receiver has 0 chance to make a play. If there’s one positive for Jags fans, it’s Lawrence’s strong pocket awareness. According to PFF, Lawrence has only taken 5 sacks on his 41 pressured dropbacks. While fellow rookie Zach Wilson has been dropped a league-high 15 times, Lawrence is among the bottom 10 QBs as far as sacks taken. It doesn’t get any easier for Trevor this week, though. After playing two of PFF’s top 10 defenses this season (Broncos #3, Cardinals #5), they get another one this week: the Bengals are currently 7th.

This preview was originally published by STAT Stack, a division of STAT Factor. STAT Stack is an email newsletter that provides the most important information on the biggest games in sports. To subscribe to STAT Stack, click here.

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