JACKSONVILLE – Each Saturday during the 2017 season, eight Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton and J.P. Shadrick – will break down the following day's Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The Cincinnati Bengals at EverBank Field in Jacksonville.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if:They play mistake-free football. The Jaguars are second in the NFL (plus-eight) in giveaway-takeaway margin; the Bengals are 31st (minus-10) in the category. As long as Jacksonville doesn't turn the ball over it should get another "W."
The Bengals will win if:They can run the football. The Jags are one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, allowing 137 yards per game. The addition of defensive tackle Marcell Dareus will help Jacksonville. The Bengals have struggled to run the football and they are going to have to fix that to come out on top.
As Ballou sees it:I like the Jaguars, 21-17. The bye week helped Jacksonville get healthy. This should be the first of many home victories the second half of the season.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if:hey continue to be aggressive offensively on first down. They need to throw on early downs and early in the game to get quarterback Blake Bortles comfortable and in a rhythm. Defensively: Make the Bengals earn everything, and do not give up big plays. The Bengals will struggle to put together long drives.
The Bengals will win if:They get the Jaguars' offense behind the sticks and having to convert in third- and-long situations. If the Bengals are able to get a two-possession lead they can force the Jaguars away from their formula for victory.
As Boselli sees it: The Jaguars pull away late and win, 24-14
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if:The offensive line plays well. The Bengals have a good, physical defensive front -- a physical team overall -- so the Jags have to block them. If the offensive line plays well, the Jags are in good shape. I don't think Cincy will do much with the Jags defense, just gotta make sure Jags run and protect Bortles.
The Bengals will win if:They run and stuff the Jags run. They aren't going to pass much on Jacksonville, but they have nice backs and could make some hay on the ground. They also need to protect quarterback Andy Dalton against a vicious Jags pass rush.
As Frangie sees it:The Jags are better and should win. It would be a big win as it would allow them to finish the first half 5-3, to win two consecutive games and to win one in front of the home crowd.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: They control the lines of scrimmage. The Bengals have some issues on their offensive line and the Jags must keep the Bengals' run game in check. They also must keep Dalton uncomfortable, which he typically has been so far this season.
The Bengals will win if: Defensive tackle Geno Atkins and defensive end Carlos Dunlap can pressure the Jaguars' offense into making mistakes. The Bengals' defense is stout, but it has not been a takeaway machine with only five interceptions and no fumble recoveries.
As Lageman sees it:The Jaguars' defense will be too much for the Bengals' offense to handle. Dareus will provide the Jaguars' defense immediate help versus the Bengals' running game. Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green will not be a factor with Dalton unable to find any rhythm in the pocket.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if:They can match the physical play of Cincinnati in the trenches. The Bengals are physical, but the Jags might be better on both sides of the ball. This Jaguars front on defense with the addition of Dareus should be able to get to Dalton and dictate play.
The Bengals will win if:They force two or more turnovers and Green is able to come up with a few big plays against this talented Jaguars secondary. As good as the secondary is for the Jaguars, Green still needs to get chances to make plays for the Bengals to have a chance to win.
As Martineau sees it:The Jaguars are primed to get on a roll. They have a ton of momentum, are well-rested and will get healthier this week on offense. The Jags won't blow everyone out, but this is a game in which the defense holds onto a late lead. That means EverBank will be rocking late Sunday afternoon.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if:They run for 140 yards and win the turnover battle. Reaching 140 won't be easy against a good Bengals defensive front, but the Steelers and Colts have run effectively against Cincinnati in recent weeks. If the Jaguars run effectively and have more giveaways than takeaways it's hard to see them losing Sunday.
The Bengals will win if: Green gets loose for more than 100 yards – and a big play. The Jaguars' secondary may be the NFL's best, but Green is capable of scoring against any secondary. When the Jaguars have lost this season, they've usually given up a big, momentum-changing play early. Green is the Bengals' best candidate for a momentum-changer.
As Oehser sees it:This is a game the Jaguars should win. They're not miles better than the Bengals, but they have enough matchup advantages – particularly their defensive line versus the Bengals' offensive line – that they should win at EverBank for the first time this season.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if:They take advantage of the Bengals' rebuilt offensive line. Cincinnati let Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler walk in free agency last spring and they're paying the price now. They've allowed 22 sacks in seven games and countless pressures last week against Indianapolis, which doesn't exactly have a ferocious pass rush. That plays into the Jags' strength – a dominant defensive front which can wreck a game plan with sacks and takeaways.
The Bengals will win if:They can run the ball, which they haven't shown the ability to do consistently through seven games. They must keep the Jaguars' pass rush at bay and allow Dalton time to find Green. That won't happen unless Joe Mixon and Jeremy Hill run for more than 78 yards.
As Sexton sees it:The Bengals have one explosive option, Green – and the Jaguars have the coverage plus the ability to pressure Dalton and keep it under control. The Jaguars have passed the Bengals in terms of the roster; unless the Jaguars come out flat from the bye or if there really is a problem winning at home, they should finally put together a modest winning streak.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if:They get a two-score lead. If the Jags get the lead and get the pass rush going, Dalton will have a long day against this Jaguars secondary.
The Bengals will win if:They figure out some sort of running game and keep things balanced. The Bengals are near the bottom of the league in rushing offense, and the Jaguars are last in the league against the run. Dareus is now with the Jags to help with it, and it needs to happen fast.
As Shadrick sees it:If the Jaguars are a true contender for the division title, this is a game they must win. Favored. At home. After the bye. Healthy. New face on a dominant defense. No excuses. Go win it, and start with this game.