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Thursday Night Football Gambling Preview: Who has the edge in the matchup of Lawrence vs. Burrow?

Credit: @JoeyB_9 (Instagram)

We've got another Thursday Night Football game on the slate this evening, as Jacksonville (0-3) will travel to Cincinnati (2-1) to kick off Week 4.

And boy, oh boy, the storylines coming into this one: It’s obviously a matchup between the last two No. 1 overall picks, as Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence will meet for the first time since they played in the 2019 National Championship game, where Burrow’s Tigers beat Lawrence and Clemson. Urban Meyer is looking for his first NFL win. Jacksonville is looking to break their 18-game losing streak, while Cincinnati is looking to continue a hot stretch to start the season. Burrow is 2-1 and they have won two games as an outright underdog.

But now 7.5 point favorites at home in a stand-alone spot, there are suddenly expectations for the football team in the Queen City.

Let’s break down the game, with the point spreads brought to you by DraftKings Sportsbook:

Spread: Cincinnati -7.5

Total: 46

When Jacksonville has the ball:

Narratively, Jacksonville has been the laughing stock of the league alongside the team that team that wears green in New York. There’s no argument that things have been bad. Jacksonville ranks 29th in DVOA on offense and 27th in DVOA on defense. They just traded young Pro Bowl corner CJ Henderson earlier in the week. Trevor Lawrence has yet to live up to expectations, with his seven interceptions tops in pro football. Lawrence is only completing 54 percent of his passes and has a QB Rating of 60.3.

But I have optimism things will turn around for Lawrence.

Thankfully for Jacksonville, the offensive line ranks fourth in adjusted line yards and are fifth in opponent adjusted sack rate. Urban Meyer needs to tinker with his play calling to put Lawrence in a position where he is ahead of the chains. With the offensive line playing well, there is positive regression due for this offense, especially since Cincinnati is a team that is susceptible to being run on. The Cincy defense ranks four overall in DVOA through three weeks, but they have also played the two worst offenses, and the weakest offensive lines in football. Cincinnati will be without All-Pro safety Jessie Bates and cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. Lawrence is coming off his best performance in Week 3. I think we get a flashy game out of Lawrence on Thursday night.

When Cincinnati has the ball:

While I have hope for the Jacksonville offense, I don’t resonate that same type of hope for the defense.

With CJ Henderson off to Carolina, Jacksonville's top secondary option is second round rookie Tyson Campbell. Urban Meyer's club already has had the highest QB rating surrounding a 74 percent completion percentage and averaging 9.0 yards per throw. Joe Burrow and Cincy offense will test that secondary early and often. Burrow has benefitted from having his former college teammate Ja’Marr Chase on the outside. Through three games, Chase has 11 receptions for 222 yards and four touchdowns. Through three games Burrow is completing 70 percent of his passes, while averaging 7.6 yards per pass, while being the most pressured quarterback in the entire league. Cincinnati will get an easier task defending the Jacksonville pass rush. Expect the Bengals to put up 28 points with ease and depending on if Jacksonville can keep it up, Burrow may put on a historical show.

The pick: Over 45.5

I expect Jacksonville to look at least competent on the offensive side of the ball. Jacksonville ranks first in the NFL in pace and we should see them be aggressive moving the ball up and down the field. This is a statement game for Joe Burrow to show he is the prominent quarterback of the future. He’s going to have a chance to bomb away at this poor Jacksonville defense. Trevor Lawrence will have a chance to keep up against a banged up secondary. I don’t have any interest in backing any of these teams. So take the over, I think we will have a sneaky shootout tonight.

Make sure to follow Austin on Twitter @AMontgomeryLive


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