What’s up everyone, Jake here filling in for Adam’s weekly player props article. Tonight, we’ve got the Jacksonville Jaguars traveling to Cincinnati to take on Joe Burrow and the Bengals. The Jaguars are 0-3 but have shown small signs of improvement since the beginning of the season. They hung around with the Cardinals in the first half last week and quarterback Trevor Lawrence had his highest completion percentage of his young career at 64.7%. They didn’t win the game, they actually didn’t even cover the spread, but they didn’t get completely dominated like they did the first two weeks of the season.
The Bengals come into week three at 2-1, atop the AFC North after dominating Pittsburgh on the road. Joe Burrow only needed to throw the ball 18 times to put up 24 points and beat the Steelers. Cincinnati didn’t do anything overly flashy on offense aside from touchdowns by Ja’Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd, but they really didn’t have to with Pittsburgh’s offense looking flat and unthreatening. Cincinnati is favored by seven and a half on Thursday night, with the over/under set at 46.0.
Now, let’s get to some picks.
Tyler Boyd O/U 5.5 Receptions
I’m sitting at my computer talking myself into this pick, which almost certainly means it will be a loser, but I’m gonna do some math for you, throw a stat at you, and by the end of this blurb, you’ll be convinced it’s a winner too. At the very least, indulge me before this pick is an obvious loss. Let’s break it down. Over the first three weeks of the season, Tyler Boyd has 19 targets, and Joe Burrow has 75 pass attempts; that means about one in every four passes is going Boyd’s direction. The over/under for Joe Burrow pass attempts are set at 31.5 passes. I like to pretend I’m smarter than the people who make those lines when I write these, but they typically are right on target with their lines. If Burrow throws the ball 32 times, and Tyler Boyd continues to get 25% of the targets, that’s eight targets. Boyd has caught 14 of his 19 targets on the season, about 75%. I think you know where I’m going with this. If my math is correct (and it’s almost definitely not) and Boyd gets eight targets and catches 75% of them, that’s six catches right there.
What I just described is a best-case scenario that required a little bit of reaching to make this pick work, but here’s why those reaches can come true: the Jaguars have been absolutely killed with short passing this year. When opponents throw the ball to receivers under 15 air yards against Jacksonville this season they’ve completed 34/41 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns. I’m just some guy on the internet who makes losing gambling picks, so if I have this information, Zac Taylor and the Bengals’ coaching staff have this information. Tyler Boyd has been operating primarily out of the slot this season, working over the short middle part of the field. On top of all of this Tee Higgins is likely out, leaving one fewer mouth for the Bengals to feed, opening up the door for Tyler Boyd.
The Pick: OVER 5.5 Receptions (-105, DraftKings Sportsbook)
Trevor Lawrence O/U 252.5 Yards
Trevor Lawrence has only played three NFL games, so there isn’t a ton to go off of here other than what we’ve seen so far. Don’t get me wrong, I think Lawrence will be a star in the NFL one day, but I don’t think tonight is that day. His yards in his three starts have been all over the map, ranging from 118 yards all the way up to 332 yards. The low end of that spectrum was at Denver, where he only completed 14 of 33 pass attempts. The high end came against Houston where he completed 28 of 51 passes as the Jaguars were playing from behind the entire game.
So far on the young season, Cincinnati hasn’t played any quarterbacks that jump off the page: Kirk Cousins, Andy Dalton/Justin Fields, and a rapidly aging Ben Roethlisberger. Regardless of who they’ve played so far, they’re only allowing 238 yards per game; you can only play who’s on your schedule. An interesting thing to note is that Lawrence’s average depth of target is about four yards more than the other quarterbacks the Bengals have seen outside of Fields, but Fields didn’t have much success through the air either (6/13, 60 yards). Lawrence is averaging about 10.5 yards per completion, so if that holds he’ll need about 24 completions to eclipse 252.5 yards. Urban Meyer stressed the importance of getting running back James Robinson more touches after last week’s game, and I don’t think we’ll see a complete blowout later tonight. 253 yards isn’t untouchable by any stretch of the imagination, but I just don’t see it happening for Lawrence on the road in Cincinnati.
The Pick: UNDER 252.5 Passing Yards (-115, DraftKings SportsBook)
Photos by Ian Johnson and David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Jacob Roy (@jmrgraphics3 on IG)