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5 players and matchups to watch for in Bengals vs. Jaguars

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Can the Bengals take advantage of the Jaguars’ right guard by committee, or will their running game be too much to contain for 60 minutes?

Cincinnati Bengals v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T. Ludwig/Getty Images

For the Bengals’ third home game of the season, the 2-4 Jaguars present an opportunity to test how weak some units on the team really are. There isn’t a unique strength that the Bengals currently possess, but the Jaguars aren’t exactly a powerhouse in their own right.

The biggest mismatch in this game is the Jaguars’ passing game (sixth in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, 19th in Expected Points per Play, 22nd in Success Rate) vs. the Bengals passing defense (30th in DVOA, 28th in EPA/Play, 29th in Success Rate). The advantage is with the Jaguars, but after struggling against the Saints last week, they’re far from dominant.

As far as individual matchups go, the Bengals need their handful of starters that aren’t injured to put together strong performances, as most of them are still looking for their first decent game of the season.

C.J. Uzomah

Despite playing 59 more snaps than Tyler Eifert, Uzomah and Eifert share the same number of receiving yards (108). Granted, Eifert’s ran 26 more routes, but for being the de facto starter at the tight end position, Uzomah’s lack of production through six weeks is disappointing.

Zac Taylor’s offense wasn’t projected to utilize the tight ends very much in the passing game when everyone was healthy, but without A.J. Green and John Ross III playing, now is the time to adjust and get Uzomah (and Eifert, for that matter) more involved.

Primary matchup: Myles Jack - Jacksonville is missing recently-retired linebacker Telvin Smith Sr. on defense. Jack, who signed a four-year extension with $33 million guaranteed this summer, has still been serviceable but not as good as he was in years past. The responsibility of covering tight ends has mainly fallen on him this season, after Jalen Ramsey had to take on Travis Kelce of the Chiefs in Week 1.

Bobby Hart

Last week against Baltimore, the Bengals’ notorious right tackle had an all-around clean game. The Ravens’ pass rush was virtually non-existent up until the final drive of the game as everyone, including Hart, was holding up against a lackluster pass-rushing unit. The ante will be raised this week and Hart will have to find (positive) consistency for the first time this season to keep Andy Dalton upright.

Primary matchup: Josh Allen - This is really a two-part matchup. On early downs, Hart will see plenty of Calais Campbell, who is still playing at a high level at the age of 33. When Campbell moves inside on passing downs, the rookie Allen will be unleashed off the left edge. Through his first six games, Allen has four sacks and a pressure for every eight pass-rushing snaps. He’s living up to the hype as a top-10 pick, and could present Hart with some major issues.

Ryan Glasgow

A year removed from his torn ACL, Glasgow has been dealing with a nagging thigh injury that has kept him out of three games this season. Even in the contests he’s played in, his impact has been minimal in both phases. He has one less run stop (two) than he does pressures (three) in 86 snaps this season. After missing last game, he may not be 100%, but he’s got a good matchup to show something promising on tape.

Primary matchup: A.J. Cann and Will Richardson Jr. - The right guard position has been a mess for the Jaguars. For the past month, the offense has been using both Cann and Richardson via a committee approach. Neither have been good and the rotation between the two probably hasn’t helped. This should help Glasgow and Geno Atkins get back on track.

Darqueze Dennard

Welcome back to the field, No. 21. Dennard’s 2019 debut comes right when William Jackson III and Dre Kirkpatrick will both be out for a few weeks, which makes where Dennard will be playing a question worth asking. When Kirkpatrick left the game last week, B.W. Webb filled in for him at left cornerback, with Tony McRae took over in the slot. Perhaps those two stay there while Dennard replaces Jackson at right cornerback.

If that’s the case, Dennard will get a chance to prove he’s worth the boundary cornerback money he wanted this offseason before his knee injury got in the way.

Primary matchup: Chris Conley - A free agent signing from this offseason, Conley has primarily been seen out wide to the left. Conley’s 243 receiving yards on the season are a bit misleading, considering 170 of them came in the first two weeks. He was completely shut out last week against Eli Apple of the Saints. Dennard replicating that performance will go a long way to stopping the Jaguars’ passing offense.

Jessie Bates III

It’s been a quiet year for Bates, who seems to be regressing in Lou Anarumo’s defense. Opposing offenses are having such success running the ball on the Bengals that Bates’ weaknesses in run defense are continue to exploited at a high rate, much like at times last year. Bates is second on the team with seven missed tackles, which is a sobering stat considering who the running back for the Jaguars is.

Primary matchup: Leonard Fournette - Leading the most volatile rushing offense in the NFL, Fournette is third in the NFL with 584 rushing yards. Despite this, the Jaguars’ rushing offense is 21st in DVOA, 19th in EPA/Play and 32nd in Success Rate. Fournette can be quiet for long periods of a game and then explode for a long run out of nowhere, which explains his league-leading 3.98 yards after contact per rush for starters.

Fournette breaks many would-be tackler in the first two levels of the defense. Bates will have his hands full bringing him down when he gets in space.