The Jaguars host the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend for a Sunday Night Football matchup that will air nationally on NBC. The energy from last week’s Tampa Bay game was apparent. It will be a great showcase for the Jags to show how much they have improved lately. Expect many more folks to jump on the Jaguars “playoffs bound” bandwagon.
It will be the first time these teams meet in the preseason. The Bengals are one of nine teams the Jaguars have yet to face prior to the regular season. The others are Cleveland, Houston, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Oakland, San Diego, Arizona and Seattle.
Jacksonville last played Cincinnati on November 2, 2014. The Bengals won 33-23 in Paul Brown Stadium, but not before the Jaguars cut it to 26-23 in the fourth quarter. Blake Bortles, in his sixth career start, threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns to Allen Hurns.
Humble-brag to Bengals fans:
The Jaguars have a definitive No. 2 wide receiver. Allen Hurns became the youngest undrafted player (24 years, 52 days) to record 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.
It is difficult to brag to a fanbase that has witnessed its team make the playoffs five consecutive seasons, not to mention the fact that the Bengals have won the AFC North two of the last three years.
Connections to the River City:
Entering his seventh pro season, the Bengals have former Florida Gator Carlos Dunlap. He was the Defensive MVP when the Gators won the 2009 BCS National Championship Game.
Cincinnati has five Georgia Bulldogs. The most notable is wide receiver AJ Green.
What to Watch:
Left tackle Kelvin Beachum, the free agent acquisition coming off an ACL surgery from last season, has seen work all week. If he starts, Luke Joeckel will move to left guard. Can the left side get close to the consistency of the right?
The first team offense has been starting fast and consistent. We get to see a lot of Blake Bortles and Co. Might be the last time we see them all suit up together until September 11.
Myles Jack, Jalen Ramsey and Dante Fowler, the three-headed beast made up of first-year players on defense will be a significant factor as to how the Jags are in 2016. Jack saw 29 snaps against New York and played 37 versus the Bucs. He will get a chance to run with the ones Sunday night.
Trying to Figure Out:
Cuts are coming next week with teams having to trim down to 75 players on the active roster. Second half play could tell us who will be the dozen-plus cut casualties. NFL squads have until Tuesday, August 30, at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time to make those decisions.
Coming off 16 snaps at LEO last week, rookie Yannick Ngakoue has been consistent. He has recorded a solo tackle, a sack, quarterback pressure and special teams tackle. This kind of play from a third-rounder is a nice treat.
The OTTO has Ryan Davis and Dan Skuta playing outside linebacker and then rushing the passer on third downs. Davis has been in for 48 plays through the first two preseason games while Skuta has seen 24 snaps. Is it a close competition?
How to Listen:
1010XL and 92.5 FM will air the game, beginning at 8:00 p.m. Pre-game coverage starts at 5:00. Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman and Tony Boselli will be in the booth with Rick Ballou on the sideline.
Simulcast partner WGNE 99.9 FM will also air the broadcast.
Where to Watch:
The game will air nationally on NBC for Sunday Night Football. Mike Tirico will handle the play-by-play with Cris Collinsworth providing analysis. Michele Tafoya will report from the sidelines.