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MNF best bets: Searching for scoring in lopsided Bengals-Jaguars catfight

Perry Knotts / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Like every prime-time game featuring a New York team this season, a quarterback injury foiled the NFL's plan.

The Jaguars get their chance to shine on Monday Night Football for the first time in 12 years. And they likely aren't feeling sorry for the Bengals, who are still licking their wounds after losing Joe Burrow for the season. What was supposed to be a duel between star AFC quarterbacks is instead a contest that's turned into whether Jacksonville can take care of business as a big favorite.

Bengals @ Jaguars (-10, 39.5)

How much do you trust the Jaguars to win big against anyone? You should probably pass on the side in this game if your answer is anything other than "wholeheartedly," especially if you already have a vested interest in Jacksonville winning outright. If you follow our betting community, you likely have a 49ers/Jaguars parlay that needs closing - a bet made last week when Jacksonville was -400 (they're now -525). For those looking for a standalone wager, let's focus on the total.

Bengals offense

Tee Higgins is expected to return, adding another key weapon for Jake Browning. Of course, you're probably scoffing at the signal-caller's name in that sentence. But with another week-plus of practice under his belt, at least Browning's got a fully healthy offense to work with against a Jaguars defense that's 24th in yards per pass attempt (YPA) allowed.

Cincinnati scored just ten points against Pittsburgh last week, but Browning's stat line wasn't terrible, recording a 73.1% completion rate and 8.7 YPA. Some of that came from good fortune on deflected passes into Ja'Marr Chase's hands. However, Jacksonville has to respect both sides of the field with Higgins available. Browning has two options to make plays on contested passes.

Joe Mixon couldn't help Browning last week, running eight times for 16 yards. Mixon's no stranger to a bad game, and he frequently bounces back to respectability the following week. The Bengals won't have much left to play for if they lose Monday, but they're technically not out of playoff contention yet and should show up for their last prime-time game of the season.

Jaguars offense

This section could just as easily be called "Bengals defense" since that's the big issue regarding Cincinnati's chance to compete in this game.

Before the Dolphins ran an informal track meet in Washington on Sunday, the Bengals were dead last in opponents' YPA. And now, arguably their best cornerback, Cam Taylor-Britt, is out. That'll be problematic against Trevor Lawrence and his cadre of weapons.

At least the Bengals are good at stopping the run. No, wait, Cincinnati's close to the bottom in that category, too.

The Bengals score more than a little, but the Jags score a lot, making a total under 40 points too low.

Pick: Over 39.5

Calvin Ridley: Over 56.5 receiving yards

As can happen with the Monday night spotlight, the secret might be out if Calvin Ridley puts on another solid performance. Ridley strung together three straight big games against mediocre opponents after compiling 89 yards and a touchdown in Week 12 versus the Steelers. Still, his yardage total is somehow three yards lower this week against the Bengals' defense.

Ja'Marr Chase: Anytime touchdown (+230)

We relied last week on Chase's relative awesomeness to surpass a lower yardage total than usual for him. He may do that again, but let's shoot our shot for a touchdown at better than 2-to-1 odds.

The low total - which we've already determined has been excessively depressed - has lengthened the odds for all of the Bengals' potential touchdown scorers. Browning built some chemistry with Chase during the preseason when Burrow couldn't practice. Whether it's early or after the game's out of hand - as it was in Baltimore - these two can connect for a touchdown at an unusually sizable payout for one of the best pass-catchers in the game.

Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.

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