We’ve made it to another Monday night, and this one brings us a pair of AFC teams headed in different directions at this point in the season. The Jacksonville Jaguars come into Week 13 with an 8-3 record and a stronghold at the top of the AFC South. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals’ season has unfortunately taken a turn for the worse, with Joe Burrow suffering a season-ending injury. This one looks lopsided on paper, but there are still expert picks for Monday Night Football to be made.
The Jaguars are coming off two straight wins and have won seven of their last eight games and 15 of their last 20, dating back to last season. In the AFC playoff picture, Jacksonville quietly lurks behind the household Chiefs, Ravens, and Dolphins. Last postseason, the Jaguars nearly reached the AFC Championship Game, and they appear to be poised to make some noise again as we approach the regular season’s final month.
This will mark the first Monday Night Football game the Jaguars have played since 2011. That’s the longest stretch of not appearing on Monday night in the NFL. Some franchises have appeared in more than 20 Monday night games over this period.
— Good Morning Football (@gmfb) December 1, 2023
The Bengals season went off the rails when Burrow suffered a season-ending wrist injury two weeks ago against the Baltimore Ravens. Cincinnati has lost three games in a row and has a 5-6 record entering Week 13. Jake Browning has taken over as the starting quarterback for the Bengals, but the matchup with the Jaguars defense isn’t an easy one for the backup.
An exciting storyline for this one is the battle between brothers. Zac Taylor is the head coach of the Bengals, and his younger brother is the offensive coordinator of the Jaguars. Press Taylor calls the plays for Jacksonville’s offense, and while Zac doesn’t call the defensive plays for Cincinnati, he should be familiar with his brother’s play-calling tendencies.
At this point, injuries are rampant throughout the league. As of this writing, the most significant news we’re all waiting on is the health status of Jacksonville’s Etienne. The star running back has been dealing with a rib injury and has been limited in practice all week. Reports suggest he will be active for Monday’s matchup.
We continue to gather more data on each team to help make the best NFL picks. According to the latest NFL Las Vegas odds, the primetime showdown has a low total of 38½ points. The NFL point spread has the homesteading Jaguars as 9 -point favorites.
The Bengals franchise has struggled mightily on the road in Monday Night Football, holding a 3-20 record, which is the worst in the NFL. They have lost nine straight Monday night games. The Jaguars allow just 6.6 points per game in first halves this season, the second-fewest in the NFL. This has helped Jacksonville cover the first-half spread in nine of 11 games this season.
These teams are considerably slow compared to the rest of the league. With Browning under center for the first time last week, the Bengals had the second-slowest pace and the second-highest passing rate. Meanwhile, the Jaguars offense has played at the second-slowest pace over the last month.
If you’ve been riding the touchdown train, you’ll know how calculated I am with our picks. We’re not going to shoot blindly and throw noodles at the wall to see if they stick just because a player’s odds are long to score. My research will always back up the reasoning behind my touchdown scorer bets.
Now that the stage is set, let’s get to our MNF anytime touchdown scorer predictions for the Jacksonville Jaguars vs Cincinnati Bengals. Best of luck if you tail!
Jaguars vs Bengals Best Anytime TD Scorer Bets
I expect the entire touchdown betting community to back tight end Evan Engram in this spot. Trevor Lawrence has been straight-up cooking over the last two weeks. He ranks in the top 10 in nearly every major passing category over the last two games. He should ball out again Monday night against a defense that allows the most yards per attempt (9.1 YPA). We just watched Kenny Pickett set a career-high against the Bengals’ secondary last week, and the Jaguars offense is averaging 417 total yards over the last two games.
Despite all of this, Lawrence missed Engram wide-open in the end zone last week in Houston.
Most targets without a TD this season:
1. Evan Engram (82) pic.twitter.com/y63pO4Ygv8
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) November 27, 2023
The tight end has a league-high 82 targets without a touchdown entering Week 13. He’s third among tight ends in targets, receptions, and yards. The matchup against Cincy doesn’t get much better for tight ends as the Bengals have allowed the second-most yards and are tied with the third-most receptions to opposing tight ends this season. With the Bengals losing both starting safeties Vonn Bell and Jesse Bates in free agency last season, there has been a major weakness in defending tight ends. We just watched Pittsburgh’s Pat Freiermuth put up 120 yards on nine catches against this Bengals defense. It’s December, the time of the year to rejoice, and I expect Engram to celebrate early with his first touchdown in 2023.
NFL Pick Anytime TD Scorer: Evan Engram (+260)
It has been clear and obvious the area to attack the Bengals’ defense this season is over the middle of the field. I just explained why above. While Calvin Ridley is finally starting to deliver for the Jaguars, Christian Kirk still leads all Jacksonville receivers in receptions and yards this season. The Bengals play a ton of man-to-man with a single-high safety. This typically gives one-on-one opportunities to create explosive plays.
Ridley is the deep-ball threat between the two, but Kirk leads the team with a massive 31% target rate when facing man coverage this season. The Bengals have been getting cooked by slot receivers this season, which is surprising, given that Mike Hilton is their nickel corner. Kirk hasn’t scored since Week 7, but I expect him to find the end zone in this matchup.
NFL Pick Anytime TD Scorer: Christian Kirk (+160)
Questions Of The Day
Which player on the Jaguars has the best value to score an anytime touchdown against the Bengals?
Tight end Evan Engram is the player on the Jaguars with the best value to score an anytime touchdown against the Bengals.
Which player on the Jaguars has the best value to score a rushing touchdown?
The player on the Jaguars with the best value to score a rushing touchdown is Tank Bigsby.
The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.