It's time for Week 7, and the Jaguars are headed to Ohio to face the Cincinnati Bengals. Jacksonville looks to rebound from last week's close loss to the Saints, and Cincinnati still has a goose egg in the win column. The Jags plan to keep it that way. Jacksonville is headed to the Queen City in pretty good health, but the same can't be said for the Bengals. They've already ruled out six in this matchup.
The last time these two teams faced off was in 2017...and things got a little tense. Both teams have since rejuvenated their rosters. After Foles went down in Week 1, rookie QB Gardner Minshew II had to step in. He hit a speed bump last week against an incredibly talented Saints defense, but it looks like this is the prime week to bounce back because the Bengals rank next to last in total yards allowed per game (426 YPG) and are the worst team in the NFL against the rush (184.5 YPG)...also a good sign for RB Leonard Fournette.
Speaking of the Bengals giving up 426 YPG, this is a great opportunity for gun-slinger Garnder Minshew II and his WRs. Especially wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. because he ranks third in the AFC in receiving yards and ranks fifth overall in the NFL with 528.
Chark Jr. is in his second season as a Jaguar and has made his presence known this year. He was Jacksonville's second round pick in 2018 following his career at LSU. Through the first six weeks of the 2019 season, not many players are having the same impact as Chark. The Jaguars finally have the deep-threat wide receiver they've needed. "He is playing so good, making so many big plays," Minshew II said. "He is playing with a lot of confidence. I trust him. I am going to give him every opportunity to make plays."
While last week's game was a bit of a fluke for this offense, let's not forget the incredible performance that Chark Jr. displayed against the Panthers in Week 5. He finished the game with eight receptions for 164 yards and two touchdowns. Keep an eye out for #17 who is primed for another huge game against a banged up Bengals defense.
The matchup to watch this week is the Jacksonville receiving corps against the Bengals backs. DUUUVAL heads into this one with the edge for three reasons - Bengals injuries, Jags size and attention to the running game. The Bengals defensive backs are giving up 241.5 receiving yards per game and they come into this match-up incredibly beat up. In fact, both starting corners have been ruled out this game - William Jackson III and Dre Kirkpatrick. Therefore, the Bengals have activated 2014 first-round pick Darqueze Dennard to help on the perimeter.
The edge for the Jags wide receivers continues because of pure size matchup. All of the defensive backs that are active for this Sunday's game are under six-foot. Meanwhile, the DUUUVAL wide receivers average at at least two inches above six feet. Jacksonville's receivers have proven to be physical off the line of scrimmage and shifty when let loose in the field - especially with speedsters like Dede Westbrook and Chris Conley. We'll see how much playing time Westbrook sees if he's active in Sunday's game, but Chris Conley should certainly get some opportunities.
The third bonus for Jacksonville is a bit ironic. The Bengals know of Leonard Fournette and the strength of the run game. I believe we will see Cincinnati put their focus on stopping the ground game and force the pass catchers and the quarterback to win this one for the Jags. With guys like Geno Atkins, Sam Hubbard and Ryan Glasglow looking to stop Fournette, Minshew should have the huge opportunity to air things out to his receivers.
I predict a massive step forward for this offense this week. We know how well Minshew can throw the ball, and these talented receivers compliment him perfectly. This should allow for this offense to be well-balanced and successful this week.
Whether you're headed to Cincinnati or staying in the Sunshine State, we've got fabulous recipes created by Fresh from Florida to get your ready for gameday!
Florida Beef Sliders with Avocado Salad and Pickles
1 pound Florida ground beef
1 Florida avocado, diced small
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons all-purpose seasoning, divided
Slider condiments (mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup)
8 mini buns or slider rolls
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Preheat grill to medium-high. In a small bowl combine diced avocado, yogurt, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon all-purpose seasoning. Mix thoroughly and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Season ground beef with 1 tablespoon all-purpose seasoning and mix thoroughly. Form into 8 (2-ounce) patties and season with salt and pepper. Place onto grill and grill for 3-4 minutes per side, depending on the desired internal temperature. Remove from heat and assemble burgers with avocado salad and Florida House Pickles as desired. Serve immediately.
Florida Citrus Pecan Bars
½ teaspoon Florida orange zest, grated
5 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup Florida sugar
3 extra-large eggs
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 pounds Florida pecans, coarsely chopped
1 cup Florida Orange Blossom honey
1 ½ teaspoons Florida orange zest, grated
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 pound unsalted butter
3 cups light brown sugar, packed
¼ cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To prepare crust, beat the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until light, approximately 3 minutes. Add the eggs, vanilla, and orange zest and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter on low speed until just combined. Do not overmix. Sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour. Press the dough (it will be very sticky) evenly into an ungreased 18 x 12 x 1-inch baking sheet, making an edge around the outside. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned and allow to cool.
For the topping, combine butter, honey, brown sugar, and zest in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low-heat until butter is melted. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes; remove from heat and carefully stir in heavy cream and pecans. Gently pour over crust. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the filling is set.
Follow @freshfromflorida for healthy eating tips, new recipes and more!
As always, if you're traveling to Cincinnati to support Duval I've got important gameday tips to make your travels smooth sailing.
- The game will be partly cloudy and low 70s this week so make sure to pack a light jacket just in case! Bring your mustaches and jorts too so that our Jags can feel a piece of the Sunshine State on the road.
- There is a "Jungle Zone" during pregame that features "Ninja Warrior" races, inflatable axe-throwing, football-throwing contests and "Fowling" (think bowling, but with a football). This family-friendly area is located at the east plaza level of PBS along with face-painting, food, drinks and fan giveaways. The tailgate party gets underway three hours prior to kickoff.
- You'll be able to get your fix of both German and Mexican cuisine - well, with a twist. The stadium has gone on a health kick and serves a "Beyond Brat". Yes, a meatless bratwurst. Fans can also try a pork schnitzel slider served on a pretzel bun with gouda, German hot purple slaw and apple mustard sauce. Also, feast on fajita chicken tacos, short rib tacos, or a Mexican-inspired loaded hot dog topped with pineapple salsa, chipotle mayo, cotija and jalapenos.
- A couple other helpful tips about the stadium: Will Call is located at the North Ticket Windows, between gates B and C. Will Call is open 4 hours prior to kickoff until the end of the 2nd quarter. Also if you're worried about parking, there are several cash lots around the stadium.
That's it for Week 7! Stay safe this weekend wherever you're watching and always cheer loud and proud for DUUUVAL. Don't forget you can catch the game on CBS at 1:00pm ET.