Sep 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) looks for a receiver during the fourth quarter as Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Melvin Ingram III applies pressure at Heinz Field. The Bengals won 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

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Bengals, Joe Burrow heavily backed in battle of former No. 1 picks

Trevor Lawrence has already lost more games in the NFL than he did in 36 college starts.

Lawrence, who also is throwing interceptions at a much higher rate, will try to limit the miscues when his Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) visit the Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) on Thursday night.

It has been a rocky start for the No. 1 overall draft pick, who is tied for the NFL lead of seven interceptions with fellow rookie Zach Wilson of the New York Jets. Lawrence tossed just 17 interceptions in three seasons at Clemson while compiling a 34-2 record as a starter.

The Jaguars are a touchdown underdog, with 91 percent of the money and 79 percent of the spread-line bets at DraftKings favoring the Bengals.

The learning curve continues during a short week, but Lawrence maintains he will improve. He threw three interceptions during his NFL debut against the Houston Texans and followed up with two apiece against the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals.

“Everybody’s different and everybody’s situation is different,” Lawrence said. “I’m also not expecting this thing to take a year or two until I start taking care of the ball and playing better. I’m trending that way right now, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and feel like there’s a lot of work for us to do and a lot of games we can win.

“I’m going to accelerate that as fast as possible. I haven’t played my best, but I know there’s a lot of good football ahead.”

Lawrence owns the poorest completion percentage in the NFL (.542) among quarterbacks who have thrown at least 40 passes. He has 669 passing yards and five touchdown tosses.

Lawrence will be sharing the national television stage with Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2020 draft.

Burrow spent three seasons at Ohio State — where Jaguars coach Urban Meyer was head man — before transferring to LSU and eventually winning the 2019 Heisman Trophy.

“We’ve stayed in touch,” Meyer said on Tuesday. “I’ve talked to (Burrow) a couple of times about Trevor. Our relationship is fantastic and he’s fantastic.”

Burrow’s rookie season was cut short when he tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee in the Bengals’ 10th game in 2020.

This season, he has thrown for 640 yards and seven touchdowns with four interceptions.

Last Sunday, Burrow completed 14 of 18 passes for 172 yards with three touchdowns and one pick in an impressive 24-10 road win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“It wasn’t perfect, we have a lot of room to improve on offense, but we got the job done,” Burrow said of the victory. “You continue to build the winning culture. We’re starting to understand how to win.”

The result is prompting optimism that the Bengals could be in the mix for an AFC playoff spot after missing out the past five campaigns.

But third-year coach Zac Taylor knows his team can quickly fall to 2-2 if it isn’t focused on the Jaguars.

“We’re on a national stage here in a couple of days, and we better be ready,” Taylor said. “We know what life in this league is. I don’t care what Jacksonville’s record is. We better play our best football because they’ve got a lot of talent on that roster.”

Jacksonville’s defense has struggled, ranking 28th in opponents’ scoring (30.3 points per game) and 29th in total defense (418.0 yards per game).

That has contributed to 60 percent of the money and 63 percent of the action on the 46.5-point Over/Under at DraftKings backing the Over. Cincinnati’s -335 moneyline has also been a popular bet at the sportsbook, drawing 79 percent of the money and 86 percent of the total bets.

One day after a 31-19 home loss to the Cardinals on Sunday, the Jaguars dealt starting cornerback C.J. Henderson (the ninth overall pick in 2020) to the Carolina Panthers for tight end Dan Arnold.

The move occurred with cornerback Tre Herndon (knee) available this week for the first time this season. Defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris (ankle) and kicker Josh Lambo (personal reasons) were ruled out. Recent signee Matthew Wright will handle the kicking.

Cincinnati receiver Tee Higgins (shoulder) will miss his second straight game and safety Jessie Bates (neck) also was ruled out. Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (groin) and guard Xavier Su’a-Filo (knee) are doubtful.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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