I came into this game with the following mindset: I hope the Bengals win, but if they don’t, it means a higher draft pick, and that’s good too. I just didn’t want to see them blown out, and I imagine that’s how a lot of Bengals fans felt heading into their Week 13 game against the Jaguars on Monday Night Football.
And then, Jake freaking Browning, after looking like he didn’t have what it takes to play in the NFL with the game he had against the Steelers, came out and absolutely lit the Jaguars on fire.
Just when you think you know what’s coming, the Bengals drop one of the most fun games I’ve ever seen them play right in your lap.
Here are a few things I noticed (since this was MNF, I haven’t watched for a second time yet):
- Browning finished the game completing 32 of 37 passes for 354 yards and a touchdown, for a rating of 115.5! It’s not reasonable to ask him to complete 86 percent of his passes is completely unreasonable and unrealistic. But if he does, the Bengals are going to win the Super Bowl with Jake Browning.
- The Bengals made a point of running the ball! They ran the ball over 30 times, and it paid off big time. Mixon scored two rushing touchdowns, rookie Chase Brown averaged 6.8 yards per carry and showed he has some juice with a long carry of 31 yards, and Browning even had a nice 21-yard scramble. This trend needs to continue for the rest of the season.
- Ja’Marr Chase is incredible. With a backup quarterback, he finished with 11 receptions for 149 yards and a touchdown. Imagine what he’ll do next year with Burrow behind center and a running game!
- I sincerely hope that Trevor Lawrence is okay. Seeing him get his ankle stepped on by Walker Little was brutal. Nobody wants to see anybody get hurt, and I hope Lawrence is back under center soon.
The Bengals are coming back home and will have a shortened week to prepare for the Indianapolis Colts in a matchup between two teams eyeing a wildcard spot. Here are a few things the Bengals could see in Week 14:
- The Jags are without their starting quarterback and running back, but that hasn’t stopped them from winning their last four games. They’re coming off an overtime win on the road against the Titans. They did so through the air. Gardner Minshew threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns. Add a blocked punt for a touchdown and a bunch of field goals, and you get winning football.
- Jonathan Taylor is out, and Zack Moss is getting the lion’s share of the carries, at least for now. The running game wasn’t super effective against the Titans, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to try to pound the ball against the Bengals. The Bengals have struggled to stop the run this season, and I expect the Colts to try to take advantage of it.
- Defensively, the Colts have given up sixth most yards on the ground, but they’ve been a little stingier through the air. This is good news for a team that looks like they’re really trying to get the ground game established. It’s also really good for those of us who want more Chase Brown!
- The Colts know how to rush the passer. They’ve racked up 42 sacks so far this season, which is second most in the NFL. Browning isn’t as mobile as Burrow. The offensive line was able to keep him clean for most of the game against the Jags, but they’ll have their hands full on Sunday.
Some more random thoughts on the Bengals' awesome MNF win over the Jags:
- The play calling was 98 percent better against the Jaguars than it has been over the last few weeks. I say 98 percent because there were two poorly executed trick plays that were called, one of which was an interception thrown by Tyler Boyd. The regular plays were working. Why call weird trick plays? Don’t get cute. Just play football. The team, even without Burrow, showed they’re good enough to win that way.
- Mixon ran the ball extremely hard and gained some tough yards, including a great second effort on one of his two touchdowns.
- Tee Higgins absolutely affects this offense, even if he’s not getting the ball. Defenses can’t ignore him and focus on Chase. When Higgins is on the field, it opens the passing game for Chase, Boyd, and others.
- DJ Reader was awesome! Not only did he shut down multiple attempts to run up the middle, but he got some major push as a pass rusher. He didn’t get a sack, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t change the play.
- Browning was the first player in NFL history to complete 86 percent of his passes and throw for at least 354 yards in his first two starts.
- Brown has some juice when he runs, and it was exciting to see him get some carries. I’m sure he’ll be a large part of the game plan moving forward. It’s a shame he wasn’t before now.
- I’d like to see some more from Charlie Jones now. And Andrei Iosivas, too.
- The offensive line got things done. They opened up holes in the running game, and they gave Browning the time he needed to make his reads and get the ball out.
- This game reminded me so much of Ryan Finley’s win over the Steelers on MNF a few years ago. So much fun!
- Chase now has over 1,000 yards in his first three seasons in the NFL. A.J. Green did that in his first three seasons, too. We’ve been spoiled with great wide receivers over the years!
- The only complaint I can come up with is the chunk plays given up by the secondary in the passing game, but I also understand the Bengals started two rookies and a second-year player along with Chidobe Awuzie, and I know CTB is on IR. The secondary is young but talented. They’ll get that under control. They might not be a great secondary in 2023, but I expect them to be in 2024.
- What a great game! Now, how the hell am I supposed to go to sleep?