Bengals fans are used to their team dropping at least one "sure-win" game a year, even under the most recent surge of success for the franchise. Last year, it was in Cleveland.
This year, could it be Jacksonville?
Sorry, Jaguars. No. Just no.
When the Bengals host Jacksonville this Sunday, I fully expect the result to be reminiscent of the 27-10 romping of Jacksonville from two years ago. The Bengals didn't get a lot better this offseason, which is cause for concern within the division. However, as one of the franchises in the NFL that seemed to already have hit rock-bottom, the Jaguars actually may have taken a step back with the loss of Jason Babin, their reigning sack leader. Babin signed with the Jets before training camp in the offseason, leaving his former team with one less true leader.
Yes, Jacksonville is doing its best to build a core of youth as they revamp the team. However, it does not mean that the Jaguars should pose any realistic threat to a post-game tally in the win column for Cincinnati. The Bengals boast a team better in arguably every respect, even when the team is more than a bit dinged on both sides of the ball.
The defense should be able to hold the Jaguars to less then 20 points in the game with Bortles playing under center, and that alone makes things easy for a balanced offensive attack. If Cincinnati can secure a nice halftime lead, I wouldn't be surprised if they were able to burn some clock on some a sustained running game in the latter 30 minutes to close out the contest.
The Jaguars are at least another two rebuilding years from becoming a legitimate threat, even in their own division. The Bengals are ready to take a freebie on their schedule as they try for a fourth straight playoff berth.
If Cincinnati doesn't grow complacent, they win 30-14.
If they do, well.... they win 20-14. Just a little scarier.
How to Watch
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
When: 1 p.m. ET
Announcers: Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots
For more on the Jaguars, head over to Big Cat Country.
To keep up on the Bengals, check out Cincy Jungle.