For the third time in four weeks, the Jacksonville Jaguars are preparing to go into a Sunday contest as the underdogs.
According to opening lines from BetOnline, the Jaguars (1-2) are 3-point underdogs to the Cincinnati Bengals (0-2-1) ahead of their Week 4 clash in Cincinnati. The Jaguars were also underdogs to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1 and the Tennessee Titans in Week 2, but they were favorites against the Miami Dolphins in Week 3.
Week 3 would end up disastrous for the Jaguars, however, likely dropping them a great deal in the eyes of oddsmakers. Despite the Dolphins entering Week 3 with an 0-2 record and arguably the worst passing defense in the leagues, the Jaguars were outplayed thoroughly in every area of the game.
The 31-13 loss to the Dolphins on Thursday Night Football showed the Jaguars still have a long road toward becoming a winning football team. Their next chance to prove they are on the right path will be their road game against the Bengals, who the Jaguars defeated 27-17 in Week 7 last season to advance to 3-4.
Things were quite different in 2019, however. The Jaguars still had Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue and A.J. Bouye on defense, while the Bengals' offense was led by Andy Dalton instead of Joe Burrow. Jacksonville's defense dominated the Bengals in 2019, but the Jaguars' defense has taken a step back while the Bengals' offense has clearly improved under Burrow.
The Jaguars have a chance to get to .500 at the quarter mark of the season with a win over the Bengals on Sunday, but they will need to be at the top of their game to keep down Burrow and an improving Bengals team.
The greatest factor with the Jaguars' Sunday clash with the Bengals will be how quickly the Jaguars can start out of the gate. Jacksonville is allowing 21 points per each first half and their offense has yet to score on an opening drive. At least one of these things will have to change this Sunday.
“I think when you look at any team and people don’t start off well, it’s probably going to be a lack of execution. I mean, I don’t think that you can really say anything more than that," head coach Doug Marrone said after the Thursday Night Loss.
"So, we’ve got to do a better job of executing early on. I think, right now, the teams that we’ve played have done a better job than we have really, at the end of the day. So, we’ve just got to keep challenging ourselves to step up and get off the field and offensively be able to move the football.”