All things equal, this would be a classic upset-special scenario.
Annual cellar-dweller Jacksonville just had a 4-game winning streak snapped against an average team, the Arizona Cardinals. The streak was racked-up against poor competition; the last time the Jags played a contender, they lost 27-17 to the Rams. No doubt plenty of smirking pundits are thinking that now is the time for the franchise to revert to its usual losing ways.
But their opponent this week is the visiting Indianapolis Colts. Besides Andrew Luck being out for the season and the team being 3-8, Indy’s offensive line was completely destroyed in last week’s loss to Tennessee. Given that the Jaguars have been stubborn defensively in ’17, perhaps this isn’t the Sunday to start betting against them.
Who: Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars
When: Sunday, December 3rd, 1 PM EST
Where: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL
Lines: Indy (+9.5) at JAX (-9.5) / O/U Total: (41)
Almost nothing in football is ever truly a fluke. But we’re thinking Jacksonville’s loss to Arizona needs a little bit of a qualifier – it’s not necessarily the tip of the iceberg. The Jags ran into an energized Cardinal team desperate to save its playoff chances and playing a youthful, mobile QB for the first time in years. Phil Dawson making a career-long winning FG in midst of a bad personal slump makes the result even more random.
The Jaguars need to get their defense cranked up at home, both to take advantage of the Colts’ weakness and give QB Blake Bortles, who struggled against the talented Arizona secondary, a chance to settle down and play well. Jacksonville has 41 sacks in 2017 (DE Calais Campbell netting an impressive 11.5) but only landed 2 hits on Blaine Gabbert last weekend. Jacksonville’s ground game is excellent with Leonard Fournette leading the charge, but RBs can’t go out and rush the passer.
As for Indy, their offensive line may prove to be completely hapless playing on the road. Brissett has taken over 40 sacks and 100+ hits, Frank Gore is only averaging 3.5 ypc, and there are numerous injuries at OT, C and WR.
The safest bet here is the under, as the Colts may not be able to score a touchdown. A 17-9 Jacksonville win would lose a bet on the favorites to cover, but win the under (41) easily.
However, the Jaguars also have at least a 55% chance to cover (-9.5). The pass rush will wake up at home this week, and don’t be surprised to see Brissett fumble or throw a desperate pick to set up easy points.