Nostrathomas Predicts: NFL Week 4 and One of These Teams Is Ready for Prime Time

It seems like the NFL season just got under way and suddenly we’re heading into Week 4. Nostrathomas started strong last week but struggled with the late games.

My final record for my Week 3 picks was a solid 11-5 straight-up but 7-9 against the spread. For the season I’m 31-17 straight-up for a .646-win percentage with my record against the spread at 21-27. Not where it needs to be but the good news is that we learn more after each week of the season. Let’s see what lessons have been learned as we kick off NFL Week 4.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs Cincinnati Bengals -7.5 (Thursday Night Football; Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH)

The Cincinnati followed up a horrific performance in Week 2 in Chicago against the Bears with a dominating performance against their AFC North division rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

In Jacksonville, the Jaguars put up a fight deep against a hot Arizona Cardinals team but the game got away from them. The key to Arizona’s comeback was cornerback Byron Murphy’s second interception of the game, a 29-yard pick-6, that gave the Cardinals the lead for good, 24-19.

When digging into the details of what Urban Meyer’s team has done well, I found one thing. On the ground, Jacksonville is third in the NFL with 5.1 yards per carry. A good reason for that is getting the ball back into the hands of running back James Robinson.

There is an anomaly that stood out when looking at Jacksonville’s offensive line. Nearly every time you see a quarterback have trouble with production you can usually point to his protection. When I zoom in on the Jaguars offensive front though, a different picture emerges.

According to the Advanced Passing stats at pro-football-reference.com, Jacksonville allows quarterback pressures on 21.3 percent of Trevor Lawrence’s dropbacks. That’s the ninth best percentage in the NFL. Also, Lawrence has only been sacked five times this season, tied for fifth fewest among league offenses.

Looking at stats for passing accuracy, Lawrence has an on-target percentage of only 65.2, dead last among NFL quarterbacks. That level of accuracy explains why Lawrence is tied with Zach Wilson for most interceptions in the league with seven.

The idea to bring in Urban Meyer as Jacksonville’s head coach was to give Lawrence a coach who had a history of communicating with college quarterbacks and ease his transition to the NFL. That isn’t working. Lawrence has not been well served so far by Meyer, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and quarterbacks coach Brian Schottenheimer in adapting to playing quarterback at the NFL level.

What About the Bengals?

Nostrathomas hasn’t had much to say about Cincinnati in the analysis but I felt that digging into the Jaguars issues would provide a better argument for why I’m picking Cincinnati -7.5 in this game.

The Bengals have played very well so far in 2021 if you take out the quarter where Joe Burrow blew up and threw three interceptions in three straight pass attempts against the Chicago Bears.

Cincinnati’s defense is fourth in defensive net passing yards allowed, sixth in defensive passer rating allowed and fifth in rushing yards per attempt allowed. On offense, Burrow is developing a strong Rapport with rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.

The Jaguars have a long way to go to show that they can compete well enough with even an average team to be trusted to cover a spread.

Nostrathomas says take the Cincinnati to win and cover on the national stage tonight. The Bengals are ready for prime time.

Cincinnati Bengals 26 Jacksonville Jaguars 16

Point spread from VegasInsider.com and is accurate as of this writing.

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