NFL fans are expecting a great game between Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals and Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both are quarterbacks of the future and both will be looking to make a statement in primetime football.
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When: October 1, 2021 - 01:20 (BST)
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
How to watch: NFL Game Pass/Sky Sports NFL
Background: Jacksonville Jaguars vs Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals have been one of the teams to watch in the opening weeks of the season. Two years into the partnership of Burrow and head coach Zac Taylor, they are looking very good with a 2-1 record. They have a balanced offense and the eighth-best defense in the NFL according to lineups.com.
The Bengals have the frontrunner for Offensive Rookie of the Year in wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, who has four touchdowns so far. Chase is the youngest player and the first 21-year-old in NFL history to have four receiving touchdowns in his team's first three games of a season.
Trevor Lawrence has been less successful playing under first-year Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer. Meyer was a former college coach and has struggled against NFL defenses. He has said that "it is like playing against Alabama every week", which is not what you want your head coach to be saying.
In his first three games, Lawrence has thrown more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (five). The Jaguars have lost 18 straight games, which is the worst run in the league by far. Despite having one of the plays of the season with Jamal Agnew's 109-yard touchdown return, there has not been much to write home about for the Jaguars. If there was ever a time to turn around their season, this is it.
Quarterback matchup: Lawrence vs Burrow
Burrow was taken number one overall in the 2020 Draft after having an historic year which saw him win the Heisman Trophy and lead LSU to the College Football Playoff Championship. Many American football pundits regard Burrow as one of the greatest college quarterbacks of all time and after an horrific injury last season, he is slowly becoming the player that saw him be drafted number one overall.
The last time these two quarterbacks faced off was in the 2019 College Football National Championship. On that day, Burrow came out on top, leading his LSU Tigers to a 42-25 win over Lawrence's Clemson Tigers. Burrow's Tigers were the favourites on that day and on Thursday night, his Bengals are overwhelming favourites once again.
After coming off a lengthy injury, Burrow came into the season with his former college team-mate Ja'Marr Chase. In their last season together in college, the pair set multiple individual records and have started this season in the same way. They have connected for four touchdown passes and the evidence suggests that this number will only climb.
Lawrence came into this season under a great deal of pressure as he was the number one overall pick in the 2021 Draft, with many believing he is a generational talent. He has struggled but rookie quarterbacks often do when they make the jump from college football to the NFL. He also has not been helped by the play calling from coach Meyer. He has tried too hard at times to beat teams rather than going through his progressions, but this will come as he develops.
If the Jaguars lose against the Bengals, it will be Lawrence's fourth loss in the NFL. In one month he will have lost as many games as he did during his time as a starter in high school and college when he went 86-4.
On Thursday, Burrow has a chance to continue his great start to the season whereas Lawrence has a chance to put down a marker against a talented Bengals team.
Joe Mixon - Cincinnati Bengals
For Burrow and the Bengals to have a passing game, they need a running game in support so the defense stays honest. The Bengals have one of the most talented running backs in the league in Joe Mixon. Through the first three games of the season, he has rushed for 286 yards, which is the second-most in the NFL.
His solo touchdown this season came in Week One against the Minnesota Vikings when Mixon rushed for 129 yards. However, he could be set for a big game against the Jaguars, who on average allow 115.7 rushing yards per game.
Logan Wilson - Cincinnati Bengals
One of the main reasons for the success of the Bengals defense is second-year linebacker Logan Wilson. The former third-round pick out of Wyoming has tallied 12 solo tackles and three interceptions so far.
Last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Wilson had his first multi-interception game of the season, picking off future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger twice en route to a 24-10 victory. Jaguars quarterback Lawrence has thrown seven interceptions so Wilson could very easily add to his tally.
Marvin Jones Jr - Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are 0-3 and not much has gone right for them on both sides of the ball. Marvin Jones Jr. is a veteran in the NFL and the man most likely to change this. He spent the majority of his career in Detriot and is exactly what Lawrence needs in his rookie season. He has 194 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns on the season, which is the most on the team.
If the Jaguars are to break their 18-game losing streak, they will need a big game from Jones to help an offense that has faltered so far.
Josh Allen - Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars drafted Allen with the seventh pick of the 2019 NFL Draft and since he entered the league, he has been a force to be reckoned with. In his rookie year, he was named in the NFL Pro Bowl after a Jaguar record of 10.5 sacks for a rookie.
Allen came into this season after missing the bulk of last season due to a knee injury. So far, he has registered two sacks and if the Jaguars are supposed to stop the Bengals, they will need Allen to be in the form that saw him named to a Pro Bowl.
October 4, 2020: Jacksonville Jaguars 25 Cincinnati Bengals 33
The Bengals tallied 505 yards of offense as they registered their first win in the Joe Burrow era in Cincinnati. Hours before kick-off, Mixon was in hospital with a mysterious chest injury but was able to leave and have the game of his career. The Bengals running back rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns and caught a pass for a touchdown.
The Jaguars were led by quarterback Gardner Minshew, who threw for 351 yards and two touchdowns, but it was not enough to stop Burrow and the Bengals.
October 20, 2019: Jacksonville Jaguars 27 Cincinnati Bengals 17
The Bengals stayed winless as they fell to 0-7 against a dominant defensive showing from the Jaguars. Duval had three interceptions and a defensive touchdown as they came out 27-17 winners in Cincinnati.
Through three quarters, the Jaguars offense led by rookie quarterback Minshew stuttered and the team was forced to settle for field goals from Josh Lambo. In the fourth quarter, the Jaguars came to life and had touchdowns on back-to-back possessions, one on offense, one on defense, to seal the win.
November 5, 2017: Cincinnati Bengals 7 Jacksonville Jaguars 23
Way back in 2017, the two sides met and the Jaguars dominated as they ran out 23-7 winners. The Bengals' seven points came in the second quarter when Mixon ran the ball in from seven yards. Apart from that, nothing went right for them.
Late in the first half, Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green were ejected for fighting. Both are famously known for trash talking, only this time it resulted in Green delivering multiple punches to Ramsey's helmet and then proceeding to put him in an MMA-style chokehold. The sidelines cleared as the officials were forced to step in and stop the chaos.
The sporting highlight of the game came when Jaguars wide receiver Jaydon Mickens returned a punt for 63 yards and a touchdown, helping his side to victory.