The NFL’s most recent two #1 draft picks will show down for the first time in the NFL today (8:20pm ET Thursday; TV: Live on NFL Network) as Joe Burrow’s Cincinnati Bengals host Trevor Lawrence’s Jacksonville Jaguars.
How will this matchup work out for Thursday Night Football? Read on for our NFL game predictions, full preview and, to conclude, betting picks verdict.
Hey Rookie, Welcome to the NFL
The year was 2020. The setting, the College Football Playoff’s National Championship Game. The story: Burrow vs Lawrence. Burrow’s LSU Tigers were getting set to face Lawrence’s Clemson Tigers. Both teams were undefeated heading into the game but that was almost inconsequential. The narrative revolved around the men at the top and specifically, around who was the better player. At that point it was a well-known fact that Burrow was going to be the number one pick with Lawrence a year younger and needing to stay in college for an additional year. As was expected at the time however, Burrow and Lawrence did in fact go back-to-back as number one picks in the draft over 2020 and 2021.
Before those drafts, the national championship was played. Clemson was denied a chance at a second consecutive title, falling to LSU by a dominant final of 42-25. Burrow, the Heisman winner in 2020, outdueled Lawrence and led his team to victory. Tonight, Lawrence will have a chance to even the score. Though it won’t be easy as his Jaguars have gotten off to a slow start compared to Burrow’s 2-1 Bengals.
By all measures, Lawrence is the rookie here but that is not to say Burrow comes into this meeting with a wealth of NFL experience. A season-ending injury in 2020 led to his own promising rookie campaign coming to an end. Fully healthy, Burrow has returned and in a short time, is showing the Bengals why they drafted him top of the order in the first place. Burrow’s early numbers are certainly promising, much better than Lawrence’s. Much like that national championship, Burrow is out-dueling his ACC rival.
As they say, “hey rookie, welcome to the NFL.” Lawrence is very much still going through his paces. There is no denying his talent and no doubt he will have a bright future in this league. He will need to turn things around and likely will sooner rather than later. In the meantime, there definitely have been some growing pains. Lawrence isn’t helping his cause but he is in a tough situation, one not unlike the Bengals found themselves in when Burrow was a rookie. The talent around Lawrence isn’t all that great and a large load of the offense has fallen on the rookie’s shoulder. Jacksonville is in a clear rebuild and their record will show that. This season will be a tough one but certainly the main takeaway will be seeing how Lawrence acquires himself going forward. As one of the most successful college quarterbacks in some time, Lawrence isn’t quite used to the adversity he is currently facing. How he responds to it all, will be a huge sign of the kind of signal caller and leader he’ll be going forward.
Speaking of those rookies, both the Bengals and Jaguars are full of them. These are two teams that haven’t been all that good over the last few years and their lack of success has reaped the rewards of many top 10 draft picks. Those picks will eventually lead to the building of competitive teams, something the Bengals are starting to witness first hand. While Burrow is the main fruit of Cincinnati’s labors, another key pick is that of current rookie Ja’Marr Chase. Chase’s preseason left a lot of questions but his three-week NFL career answered them and then some. Chase has been the best rookie wide receiver thus far in a field that was full of them. He has four touchdowns in his first three games, making him the youngest player in history to achieve such a feat. Chase possesses great speed and good hands, and he has put both of those to work thus far. Burrow has what Lawrence doesn’t (but may get next year), a top level #1 wide out. If and when Lawrence gets that, the league may want to look out.
Our Betting Preview’s Jacksonville Jaguars vs Cincinnati Bengals Predictions & Picks Final Verdict
On paper, this isn’t exactly the marquee barnburner matchup it could be in just a few year’s time. That said, Burrow vs Lawrence II is definitely worth the price of admission. The future of the NFL’s top guys resides in this game and as the changing of the guard nears, Burrow and Lawrence could be looking at this as the first in a long line of future matchups. That’s all for the future. For now, we’re looking at a strong Bengals team that is really improving behind Burrow’s return to the lineup. The second year QB has taken major strides in his own development and has shown the propensity for solid decision making and the ability to work an open field. Chase definitely helps and together, the two of them are setting the stage to become a top QB/WR duo.
It is easy to see why the Bengals enter this one as 7.5-point favorites with the USA sports betting websites on the spread and it has nothing to do with LSU vs Clemson. Because while Lawrence vs Burrow may be the story once again, this is about the Bengals showing they can go toe-to-toe with the behemoths in the AFC North. A win against the Jaguars isn’t exactly wow worthy but it is one Cincinnati can hang their hat on as they take a 3-1 record into week five of the season. So, for the betting picks for this Thursday Night Football game, these are the predictions for this NFL matchup preview:
- As for the spread, support the Bengals -7.5pts @ best odds of -105 with Intertops. It is -110 with Bovada and BetOnline.
- Turning to the total points betting lines, go over 46pts @ -110 with Bovada or Intertops.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.