Joe Burrow tucks the ball and runs

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) runs during an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Matt Durisko)

  • The Cincinnati Bengals opened as 7-point favorites over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL’s Week 4 Thursday Night Football game
  • Cincinnati is 2-1 to start the season for the first time since 2018
  • Read below for opening odds analysis and a prediction on which way the line will move before kickoff

The Cincinnati Bengals can somewhat relate to the ordeal that the Jacksonville Jaguars are enduring.

In 2019, the Bengals opened the season 0-11. An eventual 2-14 record enabled them to select LSU’s Joe Burrow first overall and be installed as their quarterback of the future.

Last season, the Jaguars were an NFL-worst 1-15. The dismal performance enabled the Jags to select Trevor Lawrence first overall and install him as their QB of the future.

Here’s where the respective roads detour. The improved Bengals are off to a 2-1 start with their sophomore QB at the helm. Jacksonville is a dismal 0-3 with their rookie QB under center.

Jaguars vs Bengals Opening Odds

Team Moneyline Spread Total
Jacksonville Jaguars +270 +7.5 (-114) O 46 (-110)
Cincinnati Bengals -335 -7.5 (-106) U 46 (-110)

Odds as of September 26th at FanDuel.

That difference in fortunes is exemplified in the opening odds as these two clubs meet in the NFL’s Week 4 edition of Thursday Night Football. The Bengals are solid 7.5-point home favorites in the NFL odds. There’s already been line movement here. Cincinnati was originally established as a 7-point pick.

Kickoff for Thursday night’s game at Paul Brown Stadium is set for 8:20 pm ET. Rain is in the forecast, along with 5 mph wind and 72 degree temperatures.

Bengals Dominate At Pittsburgh

Throttling the Steelers 24-10 right at Heinz Field, the Bengals halted Pittsburgh’s NFL-record sack streak at 75 games. They protected Burrow like he was holding national security secrets under his helmet. Meanwhile, Cincy’s defensive front sacked Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger four times and had 17 QB pressures.

It was Cincinnati’s first win at Pittsburgh since 2015. Coupled with last December’s win, the Bengals have beaten Pittsburgh twice in a row for the first time since 2012-13.

Burrow and his old LSU partner in crime Ja’Marr Chase are picking up right where they left off. Cincinnati’s last two first-round draft picks have connected for four touchdown passes in three games. That’s a Bengals rookie record for Chase.

Same Old Story For Jags

It’s been 379 days since the Jaguars won a football game. They’ve lost 18 in a row. That’s the second-longest losing streak in NFL history. It’s the first time since 2010 that Urban Meyer has lost three games in a row as a head coach.

Lawrence is keeping Hall of Fame company, and not in a good way. Lawrence has joined HOFs Troy Aikman (1989) and Peyton Manning (1998) as the only QBs in the last 40 seasons with two or more interceptions in each of the first three weeks of their rookie season. He also fumbled twice in Sunday’s loss.

One week after losing to the 2019 NFL first overall pick (Kyler Murray), 2021 top pick Lawrence meets Burrow in a showdown of the last two first overall picks.

It’s their first meeting since the 2020 College Football Playoff Championship Game. That night, Burrow passed for 463 yards and five touchdowns. Burrow’s LSU Tigers were easy 42-25 winners over Lawrence’s Clemson Tigers. Chase caught nine passes for 221 yards and two scores. Lawrence was held to 234 yards through the air and no touchdowns.

Line Dancing

The Bengals are 2-1 both straight up and against the spread. They haven’t launched a campaign 2-1 since 2018. Even the oddsmakers are finally boarding the Bengals train.

It’s the first time in 16 games that Cincinnati is favored. The Bengals were a 1-point pick on October 4, 2020 against – you guessed – the Jaguars. Cinci covered via a 33-25 victory.

However, it’s been many a day since Cincy saw a spread of this size next to their name. You’ll need to go back 60 games to find the Bengals as a favorite of this size. On October 29, 2017, Cincinnati was an 11-point pick over the Indianapolis Colts. The Bengals won but failed to cover with a 24-23 decision.

This is the second week in a row that Jacksonville is an underdog of more than a touchdown. The Jags were +8 at home to the Arizona Cardinals and lost 31-19.

Still, it’s hard to imagine that this line will get much bigger than 7.5. The Jags aren’t any good but Cincinnati isn’t exactly an NFL powerhouse, either.

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Robert Duff

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