Week 8: Sunday, October 29, vs Cincinnati, 4:25 PT ET/1:25 PM PT
The Bengals could very well have two trips to the Super Bowl and at least one title under their belt from the last few seasons.
Alas, they fell apart in the Super Bowl against the Rams two years ago and couldn’t quite complete the comeback against Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game last year, leaving Bengals fans with a slightly bitter taste in their mouths.
In some ways, there are comparisons between the 49ers and the Bengals of late, although Cincinati has the one thing the 49ers do not: a franchise quarterback at the helm who can take over games if he needs to.
That offense, led by quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd, and Tee Higgins is potent, although there are still questions about the running game with Joe Mixon still unsigned (and facing some legal trouble) and rookie fifth-round running back Chase Brown out of Illinois currently the only ball carrier on the roster.
The defense has some bite to it as well, with pass rushers Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson, defensive tackle DJ Reader, and cornerback Mike Hilton serving as solid, if unspectacular, options.
This matchup will all come down to whether the Bengals can keep Burrow upright, something they’ve been trying to shore up since the former LSU Tiger got to Cincinnati. If they can, the skill position guys are going to present a matchup problem for the 49ers and may lead to a Bengals victory, even on the road.
If not, the 49ers defensive line can feast and possibly take the win. In this predication, the 49ers take their first loss of the season heading into the bye week.
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: Sunday, November 12, at Jacksonville, 1:00 PM ET/10 AM PT
The Jaguars are certainly not the laughingstock of the league they have been in recent years, and they shocked most pundits by making it to the playoffs a year ahead of schedule in 2022. Not only that, they came back from a 27-7 halftime deficit to beat the Chargers in the Wild Card Round 31-30 before succumbing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs in the Divisional Round in a closer-than-expected matchup.
This means the Jags are no slouches and should benefit from the experience in 2023 and beyond.
Chief among the reasons for their quick rise is quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who threw for over 4000 yards along with 25 touchdowns against just eight interceptions while running for five more scores. Combining with his former Clemson backfield mate Travis Etienne, tight end Evan Engram, and wide receiver Christian Kirk made for a solid offense that should only improve heading into Lawrence’s third season with the addition of rookie wideout Zay Jones.
The defense should also be a solid group, with talented linebackers Josh Allen and Travon Walker leading the way.
The 49ers will be in for a tough matchup, but after a week of rest, this should be a game they can win in the end.