The AFC South leading Jacksonville Jaguars head across country to take on the beaten and battered Arizona Cardinals. For the Jaguars, they hold their playoff destiny in their hands. A win this weekend will put the pressure on the Titans to keep up. Even with a loss, and a Titans win, the Jags still hold an AFC Wild Card spot. For the Cardinals, they are in a must-win situation as they’re quickly falling out of contention for the NFC West division title and an NFC Wild Card spot. Kickoff inside the University of Phoenix Stadium is at 4:25 PM ET.
These two teams have only met 4 times overall. Each team has won 2 games apiece. The last time they met on the gridiron was in 2013 and the Cardinals won that game 27-14.
Jacksonville (7-3) has an impressive 4-1 record on the road, which makes them the road favorite once again. They’re riding a 4 game winning streak, which is their longest streak in over a decade. The Jaguars have the best pass rush in the NFL and will face their former QB Blaine Gabbert. The Jags look to feast on Turkey for Thanksgiving and Cardinals for Sunday dinner.
The Cardinals (4-6) are a body blow away from being knocked out of playoff contention. After dropping two straight games, Arizona must win to keep mathematically alive and restore some confidence. Unfortunately, they’re down to their 3rd string QB, an aging running back and an offensive line that’s playing poorly. Can the Cardinals improve their home record to 3-2 this weekend?
The spread opened with the Jaguars favored by 3.5 points. It has gone up as high as 5.5 points, but there are still a few books that list Jacksonville favored by 5. The Over/Under opened at 42 points and has gone up to 45 total points.
Jacksonville started the season at 2-2 before going 5-1 over their last 6 games. After this road contest in Arizona, they will have 3 straight home games. Optimism is growing in Jacksonville and this team has a real shot at making the playoffs. The one thing standing in their way of victory this weekend, is Blaine Gabbert.
In 2011, the Jaguars drafted Gabbert with the 10th overall pick. Unfortunately, after 3 seasons, he was traded to the 49ers and deemed a bust. Gabbert would love nothing more than to upset his former team this weekend. Sadly, for the Gabbert family and the Cardinals, that won’t happen.
Jacksonville has a ferocious defense that leads the league with 40 sacks, 23 turnovers and passing yards allowed at just 162 ypg. One player that is a part of this defensive effort is former Cardinals lineman Calais Campbell who is tied for the league lead with 11.5 sacks. He left the Cardinals in the offseason after spending the last 9 seasons with them. The Jaguars gave him a lot of money and it’s paying off.
I expect Campbell and company to harass Gabbert all day long. Look for the Jags to get at least 5 sacks and 2 turnovers in this game. Blaine might crack 200 passing yards because the Cardinals will be down big and he can get some garbage time stats.
Arizona’s only chance in this game is to put Gabbert in short passing downs, which includes the important 3rd down scenarios. If they can establish a running game with AP then they may have some early success in this game.
For the Jags on offense, they will need to run the ball with Leonard Fournette who already has 740 yards and 6 touchdowns on the season. He’s coming off a 100 yard performance against the Browns last weekend. QB Blake Bortles will need to manage the game and not turn the ball over. He does have 7 interceptions on the season and any turnovers in this game could be costly.
The Jaguars are 9-4 ATS in their last 13 games and 7-1 ATS in their last 8 road games. Arizona is 2-7-1 ATS in their last 10 games and 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 home games.
I expect the Jaguars to roll into this game and lead wire to wire. Their defense will set the tone early and their offense will follow with a pounding running game. Bortles has managed the offense well during this winning streak. If he can manage this game, avoid turnovers and sacks, then the Jaguars will blow out the Cardinals. I expect this game to get out of hand by the late 3rd quarter as the Jaguars win 27-15.