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Last year, a TNF game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Cincinnati Bengals could have been the punchline to a bad joke. However, we are in a new year that has continued to surprise us and has not disappointed in giving us some exciting football so far this season.
A perfect example is the stellar lineup of prime-time games and last night was no exception. You could pick a storyline out of a hat for this game and be intrigued.
Two first-round draft picks are competing against each other for the first time in the NFL. Trevor Lawrence is seeing his first prime-time game in the big leagues while Joe Burrow is seeing his first this season.
You could classify this as a revenge game for Lawrence who lost the National Championship to Joe Burrow and LSU Tigers. Or, this could be the revenge match between HC Urban Meyer and Burrow who spent three years together at Ohio State. In fact, Meyer reached out to Burrow for advice on how best to support his new rookie quarterback.
The Jaguars are looking to get their first win since the beginning of the 2020 season and the Bengals are trying to stake their claim on the AFC North by going 3-1 to take the lead in the division.
No matter how you looked at this game, boring or pointless are the last things that come to mind.
A Tale of Two Halves
Despite the weight behind Thursday night’s game, the action was slow to get going. Both teams chewed up the clock in the first quarter that resulted in a punt and a missed field goal. The Jaguars put points on the board in the first half with two touchdowns. The first by James Robinson, who is finally living up to his fantasy draft capital, and the other by Lawrence, who rushed one in himself.
We were also treated to the ever-exciting punt, punt, and punt before the Lawrence touchdown heading into halftime. The Bengals were on their heels, down by fourteen points, and the Jaguars dominated nearly every measurable statistic including rushing yards, passing yards, 1st downs, total yards, and time of possession.
Cincinnati came out of their fog in the second half and tied up the score at 14-14 with a touchdown reception by TE C.J. Uzomah and a rushing touchdown by RB Joe Mixon. Robinson answered with a rushing touchdown, but the Bengals came roaring back to tie the game again with another touchdown to Uzomah to make it 21-21 in the fourth quarter.
With five minutes left to play, Jacksonville could not convert and they were forced to punt to the Bengals. A costly holding penalty on the Jaguars gave the Bengals a fresh set of down with just over three minutes to play.
The game came down to rookie kicker Evan McPherson whose 35-yard field goal took the win for Cincinnati as the time ran out.
There were some outstanding fantasy performances on Thursday night’s game that hopefully gave you a leg-up heading into the weekend. Burrow, Tyler Boyd, Robinson, and Uzomah all scored over 20 points. Even WR Laviska Shenault got involved after D.J. Chark went down early with a fractured foot. He finished with six receptions for 99 yards and 17 points in PPR formats.
RB Joe Mixon eventually found the end zone, but he likely disappointed with only 13.7 points against a defense that was ranked 10th worst against the run. He was held to only five carries for 14 yards in the first half and finished with 16 carries for 67 yards and a touchdown.
Ja’Marr Chase also disappointed with only 13.7 points after a plethora of hype heading into the game. He was unable to find the end zone on six receptions for 77 yards. Despite Chark’s absence, Marvin Jones, Jr. was all but phased out with only three receptions for 24 yards and 5.4 points.
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The big injuries in this game were from Chark early in the first quarter and Mixon at the end of the game. Chark’s fantasy season may be in serious jeopardy with a broken foot, but Mixon’s injury is murky. If RB Samaje Perine is available in your leagues, swooping him up off the wire might be a good idea.
Burrow said some interesting things in his postgame interview about Uzomah. He said the chemistry was about dialogue. Apparently, those two have developed a rapport with one another. With the tight end landscape being the wasteland that it is, taking a look at the Bengals’ TE as we move forward could provide the potential for streaming ability until WR Tee Higgins returns to the lineup.
Quick Hits/Injury/COVID Updates
Bengals RB Joe Mixon was absent during the final minutes of Thursday night’s game and was seen limping on the sidelines. … Jaguars WR D.J. Chark suffered a fractured ankle and is out indefinitely. … Richard Sherman signs with the Buccaneers. WR Antonio Brown was activiated from the COVID-19 reserve list but WR Scotty Miller was added to it. … Raiders RB Josh Jacobs was not at practice on Thursday and is questionable heading into Week 4. … Titans WRs Julio Jones and A.J. Brown remained out of practice again Thursday with hamstring injuries. The outlook isn’t good for Sunday. … Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster put in a limited practice. WR Diontae Johnson practiced in full. … Vikings RB Dalvin Cook practiced but not in a full capacity. … Ravens QB Lamar Jackson missed practice again with a back flare up, but the coaching staff is not showing much concern. … Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling missed practice on Thursday after also missing Wednesday. … Cowboys RB Tony Pollard missed practice. … Dolphins WR Will Fuller practiced in full. … Washington RB Antonio Gibson did not practice Thursday with a shin injury and his status should be monitored for Week 4. … Patriots RB James White is expected to be out for the remainder of the season with a hip injury. … Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett did not practice Thursday with a hip injury.