Originally posted on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 9/26/12


Nothing is clear in the early weeks of the season. Super Bowl contenders are below .500, teams destined for last place are unbeaten and we have spent more time talking about the officiating than the actual on-field product. But we have learnt a few things, and therefore we are allowed to extrapolate and make sweeping remarks based on what we think we know after three weeks. So here we go.

Cincinnati is coming off of an impressive road win against the upstart Redskins. They went into DC and easily covered the number despite repeated comeback attempts by RGIII. Now they head a little further south to face the Jaguars – a team that is starting to find their identity as well early in the year.

After dealing with the MJD contract situation throughout camp, the Jags got off to a slow start that they are still wading through. Gabbert is staying in the pocket, but consistency has not been blessed upon his just yet. Rookie wideout Justin Blackmon has been largely invisible and big time free agent Laurent Robinson has eight catches through three games. So life has not exactly been easy for the Jags.

Will things change this week? Not likely. People continue to overlook how dangerous this Bengals team can be – at full health or not. While Dalton and AJ Green were impressive this past week, the work that their defensive line did was arguably even more impressive. Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson are finally dipping into their potential that so many saw in them coming up the college ranks. They could become the new Freeney/Mathis combination and strike fear into the heart of the AFC for years to come.

After getting smacked around in their season opener by the Ravens, Cincy has come alive and should put up 30+ points for a third straight season. Dalton is getting time in the pocket to work the ball down the field to Green and superfreak tight-end Jermaine Gresham. Then you add in the diminutive Andrew Hawkins who has burst upon the scene with jumpcuts that would humble Barry Sanders. This Bengals team could be dangerous.

Of course this could be the game that the Jags put it all together and Gabbert develops the chemistry with Blackmon that the organization hopes to see for the next decade. Or MJD could break another huge run on the Bengals big-name/little-substance defence.

Even if the Jags do find a way to put it together in this game, their defence is nothing of note and they will be in tough against a hot Bengals team. Jax could keep it close, but expect the Bengals to put it away late.

Pick of the Week record: 1-2

The Chiefs made me look good last week. A second half comeback and an eventual overtime victory showed the league just how much trouble the Saints are really in. Let us all hope that the Bengals help me get back to .500 on the season. 

This article first appeared on This Given Sunday and was syndicated with permission.

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