The Cincinnati Bengals Week 13 contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars is shaping up to be a must-win game for the 2022 AFC North champs. The Bengals enter this weekend as the #11 seed in the AFC at 5-6, with four six-win teams ahead of them in the standings.
Both teams were among the favorites to win the AFC but have experienced vastly different seasons. Early offensive struggles put the Bengals in a hole and Joe Burrow's recent season-ending injury could mean a lost year for Cincy. As for the Jaguars, the team started slowly but has won seven of their last eight games to climb to the #3 Seed in the AFC.
With this exciting contest coming up, here are our Bengals Week 13 predictions.
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Jake Browning has another strong game
Watching Jake Browning in Week 12, you would have been hard-pressed to guess that it was his first NFL start. Browning — an undrafted free agent in 2019 — finished with 272 yards, two touchdowns, and just one pick while completing 65% of his passes. While it was not always pretty at times, he moved the offense down the field and the final score did not reflect his effectiveness in the passing game.
The bigger worry for the Bengals is the rushing attack. Cincy picked up just 25 yards on the ground against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week and rank dead last in the NFL in rushing yards per game. Browning will continue to perform but don't expect this offense to put up many points as long as the rushing attack continues to struggle.
Evan McPherson ties a season-high with four made field goals
Eva McPherson has been one of the more consistent kickers in the NFL since entering the league in 2021, and has maintained his status as an elite kicker this year. The Bengals man is perfect from inside 50 yards this season and has made a field goal in every game this year. But curiously, he only has one game with more than two made kicks — that came in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Rams when McPherson made four of five field goals, all from 48 yards or longer.
Cincinnati will need his big right leg against a stout Jaguars defense in Week 13. The Cincy offense got into Pittsburgh territory on five occasions but only scored twice. Two of those drives stalled before the 40-yard line while a third ended with a Jake Browning interception in the red zone. Jacksonville offers a similar challenge, which means that the Bengals will rely on Evan McPherson on Monday Night. Another four field goal performance is not out of the question for the third-year man.
The Bengals pick off Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence multiple times
Much of Jacksonville's improved offensive performance in the last two weeks can be chalked up to better showings from Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence has a passer rating of 103.6 in his last two contests (vs. 92.0 on the year), contributing three passing touchdowns while also scoring three times with his legs.
Still, interceptions are an issue for the Jacksonville QB. Lawrence has thrown a pick in more than half of the Jaguars' games this year and has four across his last four contests. The Bengals secondary has been adept at forcing turnovers, as they are tied for fourth in the league this year with 12 interceptions. While they are allowing considerable yardage, the Bengals will take advantage of Trevor Lawrence's questionable decision-making in Week 13 and intercept him twice.