Cincinnati Bengals vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Date and Time: Sunday, August 28, 2016, 8 p.m. ET
Location: EverBank Stadium, Jacksonville, FL
Week 3 Preseason NFL Odds at BookMaker.eu: Jaguars -1.5, O/U 43.5
Bengals vs. Jaguars TV Coverage: NBC
Winning games during the preseason and the regular year has become commonplace for coach Marvin Lewis and his Bengals. The real test for this club will come in January. But the Bengals still need to get there and the preparation for another playoff berth begins in August. Cincinnati has won at least 10 regular season games in each of the past four seasons and matched a franchise record with 12 last year. All the success has led to five straight losses in the Wild Card playoff round and seven consecutive one-and-dones dating back to 2005, all with Lewis at the helm.
And because of that it’s difficult to understand what the motivation is for Cincy during the preseason. The Bengals’ roster is pretty much set and it is one of the deepest in the NFL. There are no significant position battles at the top of the depth chart and the only thing that could change that would be an injury. Lewis and his staff will try their darndest to avoid that.
Bradley has never had a winning record in the preseason and that has apparently carried over to the regular year. The Jags went 2-2 both SU and ATS last year and are 4-10 SU and 6-8 ATS in Bradley’s tenure. The Jags have also failed to win a crucial Week 3 game under Bradley, going 0-3 SU and 1-2 ATS.
Matchup To Watch
There is a lot of pressure on the Jaguars to win this season. It’s been nine years since they last had a winning record and advanced to the playoffs and the club hasn’t won more than five games in a season since 2010. Jacksonville held on to Bradley after a five-win season in 2015 and the coach along with his young core are going to succeed or fail together. But Bradley hasn’t sounded like a coach in search of his first win, even if it is just the preseason.
No coach has ever been fired for going winless in the preseason, but if the regulars play poorly and that overlaps into the regular year, that’s another story. However, that hasn’t been the case so far for the Jaguars. Despite losing their first two preseason games to the Jets and Tampa Bay, Bradley has been impressed with his starters, especially on offense.
Jacksonville’s starters haven’t seen a lot of time on the field together this preseason, but they have been potent while out there. Through the first two games the Jags have accumulated 289 yards on 38 plays and scored 24 points. Their only drive that didn’t result in points was the opener against Tampa Bay, which was thwarted by a penalty called on the bench for being on the field.
Quarterback Blake Bortles has looked like the star the team projected he would be when taking him with the third overall pick in the 2014 draft. Bortles has completed 14 of 18 pass attempts for 190 yards with two touchdowns. He hasn’t thrown an interception and his completion percentage of 77.8 is a vast improvement over the 58.6 he recorded during last regular season. More importantly, he looks to be in command of the offense and has been smart with his decisions. He has yet to be sacked as well. It’s time for the Jags to extend their starters against Cincinnati and see how they stack up against one of the better defensive clubs in the AFC.
Bengals vs. Jaguars Free Picks
Any win at this point would be crucial to the development of the young Jaguars, and playing at home has them at -1.5 against Cincinnati. A victory would certainly validate the progress under Bradley and give the team a needed boost. Behind Bortles and an improved run game, the Jags top offensive unit has been strong. The No. 1 defense has been solid as well.
Both groups will see plenty of action on Sunday and the Bengals will try to avoid getting anyone hurt. That adds up to a cover win for Jacksonville on the odds at BookMaker.eu.
Bengals vs. Jaguars Week 3 Preseason ATS Pick: Jaguars -1.5 at BookMaker.eu
Bengals vs. Jaguars Score Prediction: Jaguars 26, Bengals 21