This isn’t anything new for the Jaguars. Before division realignment, Cincinnati would regularly visit the First Coast as a member of the AFC Central Division. They boated the tandem of Jeff Blake and Carl Pickens, who would routinely give Jacksonville fits in tightly contested games.
Fast forward to today, where Cincy is in Jacksonville again, only this time, as an conference rival. And while Blake and Pickens are long gone, the duo of Andy Dalton and AJ Green have proven just as potent, as they connected 5 times for 90 yards and a touchdown, as Cincinnati won 30-20.
This is the part where you can say, ‘That was then, this is now.’ , but we may see more of the same this season. The Jaguars haven’t improved much on offense, still relying on home run plays for touchdowns. Defensively, the Jaguars may put on some resistance, but they stay on the field so long that they start to give up big plays late in the game.
The Bengals will put on a show offensively, and the one saving grace that Jacksonville has is that the Bengals are one of the worst teams in the league at stopping the run. Maurice Jones-Drew will (or at least) should be called upon early and often to punish the Bengals front 7 and to set up Blaine to make key passes. Gabbert doesn’t need to torch Cincinnati’s secondary for 300 yards, but he does need to move the chains, and the receivers have to help the second year QB out by catching the ball. Big plays are nice, but consistent chain movement is even better.
This Sunday, Jacksonville should carry the momentum from last week’s thrilling win into Everbank Field, but I think to much needs to go right for them to win this game. There’s still the issue of late game collapses by the defense and the offense wasting opportunities to close games out. Cincinnati is par for the course this season and should figure to finish behind Baltimore in the AFC North. Jacksonville could finish second behind Houston in the AFC South, but there is some separation between the two divisions, and this Sunday, the Bengals will have a repeat performance.
Cincinnati 21, Jacksonville 13
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Written by Michael Reid