By: Dylan Sanders (Twitter: @DillySanders)
Cincinnati Bengals: vs Jacksonville Jaguars
The Bengals are in good shape to possibly get their first win, after getting a tie last week against the Eagles. Their opponent this week is another one in the bottom tier of NFL teams in the Jacksonville Jaguars.
They open as a 3 point favorite at home. Joe Burrow has looked good, that’s not even in question. What has been holding them back, emphasis on holding, is their poor offensive line. Burrow has been hit more than any other quarterback in the NFL.
Their young defense has impressed, but not been super consistent. It will be interesting to see which part of their team steps up against the Jags, who have also been super inconsistent.
Another battle in this game is between the running backs. The Jags cut Leonard Fournette, then decided to go with UDFA James Robinson. Robinson then comes in and runs for 210 yards and 3 TDs he even almost had 100 receiving yards in his last game.
Outside of offense, Both of these teams have linebacker groups that are young, but super athletic. As fun as both of the young QBs are to watch in this game, I think the key to the game comes down to the person in the backfield with them. A win this week will need to come with Joe Mixon getting at least 150 all-purpose yards.
The Bengals need this win to stay in the playoff hunt. They’re sitting the last place in a division with a loaded Ravens squad, potent Steelers squad, and an improved Browns team.
Houston Texans: vs Minnesota Vikings
Here we have a battle of two former playoff teams with no wins. So someone in this matchup will have a compelling chance to make their fans less disappointed.
Houston has had a rough run of things to start the year, as their opponents are a combined 8-1, having played Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Kansas City.
Not an ideal start to their season, after trading Deandre Hopkins and all the backlash that received. Deshaun Watson is still going to be Deshaun Watson, but it’s all about who you put around him on that offense. Looking for Brandin Cooks or Will Fuller to be a legit #1 receiver, they may be out of luck for a while. Both are talented, but you truly need a D-Hop to make that offense work. The guy they got for that trade, David Johnson, has not looked completely stellar either. Bill O’Brien is probably not very happy right now.
They also need their defense to step up, they’ve held one team under 30 points and that team scored a 28. They need to get something right in the next two weeks, because they play Minnesota this weekend and then follow that up with a game against Jacksonville, then they play Green Bay and Tennessee before their bye week.
You can’t go into the last two games looking sloppy. To win this week, they will need to hold Kirk Cousins to under 250 yards. Which, to be fair, shouldn’t be that hard of a task.
Minnesota Vikings: vs Houston Texans
Here I will be talking about the same game. Only because these are two of the better 0-3 teams. I find it fair to acknowledge that one of these teams has a chance to make a playoffs.
Well, Minnesota also has not won a game this year and are 4, 1/2 point underdogs, going into this one. Similar to Houston, Minnesota needs to step up so they don’t keep reeling into the next couple of games against the Seahawks and then the Falcons and the Packers.
There’s not much more you can ask out of your offense than to be the first-ever team to have a running back rush for over 175 yards and a receiver have over 175 receiving yards. They finally got a good game out of Kirk Cousins, who has not looked to be worth our fully guaranteed contract, and they blew it.
Their defense has given up 43, 28, and 31 points this season. I am no defensive guru, but that is not ideal. They need to get their pass rush together against this terrible Texans offensive line. So far they have a combined three sacks.
A win for the Vikings will look like combining their offense effort last week with keeping the Texans under 30 points. If their defense can help complement their offense, get the big win, then we’re seeing a solid 1-3 team.
Dylan Sanders also writes for Canal St. Chronicles/SB Nation. He’s also a key contributor to a radio show, called fullpressradio.com.