The Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) head up north to face the Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) on Thursday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:20 p.m. at Paul Brown Stadium.
Battle of No. 1 Picks
Thursday’s matchup will see the last two No. 1 overall draft picks go head-to-head as starting quarterbacks. Jacksonville took Trevor Lawrence with the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and Cincinnati selected Joe Burrow with the top spot in the 2020 NFL Draft. The last time the two faced off was the 2020 college football championship, in which LSU defeated Clemson to claim the national title. It’s just the second time in NFL history that a rookie QB selected No. 1 overall will be up against another QB picked No. 1 overall the year before.
The Last Matchup: Déjà Vu
Joe Burrow may have a familiar feeling heading into Thursday’s matchup. The first win of Burrow’s rookie season came at home against Jacksonville in Week 4. The Bengals won 33-25 and Burrow completed 25 of 36 attempts for exactly 300 yards.
Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer will also experience some familiarity upon his return to Cincinnati. The former Ohio State University head coach and University of Cincinnati alum will have a sort of homecoming after retiring as head coach of the Buckeyes in 2018. Meyer coached five players at OSU that are currently on the Bengals, most notably Joe Burrow before he transferred to LSU. There doesn’t seem to be any hard feelings, however, as the two praised each other while answering questions about the Week 4 matchup.
“I’m excited to see him, and excited to play against him,” Burrow said. “We have a great relationship.”
Improvement and Change for Jacksonville
Lawrence and the Jaguars have made steady improvement through the first three weeks, but haven’t been able to get over the edge and secure a win. The rookie completed 22 of 33 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown against Arizona, but costly mistakes killed the little momentum they had. Lawrence had two interceptions and two lost fumbles on sacks, in addition to going just 2-for-11 on third down. Despite the frustrating performance, he said the Jags are continuing to make progress and get better.
The Jaguars also made a significant change to their roster this week, trading cornerback C.J. Henderson to the Carolina Panthers for tight end Dan Arnold. Meyer said that second-round pick Tyson Campbell was starting to perform at the level he expected and has a lot of talent to offer. Cornerback Tre Herndon is back from injury and expected to make his first start of the season in Henderson’s role.
For Cincinnati, receiver Tee Higgins (shoulder) and safety Jessie Bates III (neck) will not play in Thursday night’s game. Higgins put up impressive numbers in the first two games, recording 10 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
For Jacksonville, kicker Josh Lambo (personal reasons) and defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris (ankle) are ruled out for Thursday. Offensive linemen Cam Robinson (shoulder) and Andrew Norwell (ankle) are questionable following Sunday’s game.