Two teams both desperate for a win will head to London this weekend in hopes of turning their season around as the Jacksonville Jaguars face the Philadelphia Eagles. Kickoff is set for 9:30 EST on Sunday, October 28, at Wembley Stadium in London. Fans can see the game on the NFL Network.
According to the Week 8 NFL odds, the Eagles are 3-point favorites. The over/under for the game is set at 41.5 points.
The reigning Super Bowl champion Eagles are officially reeling after last week’s home loss to Carolina. The Eagles allowed 21 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to lose 21-17. It was their third loss in their last four games, dropping them to 3-4 on the season, a record that would have been almost unfathomable at the start of the season.
The silver lining is that the rest of the NFC East isn’t particularly good either. The Eagles are still within striking distance of the 4-2 Redskins. In fact, after this week’s trip to London and their bye week, the Eagles will play four of their next five games against division opponents, giving them an opportunity to take control of the NFC East. Of course, they don’t want to head into their bye week two games under .500, so it’s important that they get a win this week.
The Jaguars, meanwhile, are just as desperate for a win. Jacksonville has lost three games in a row and four of their last five, making them 3-4 on the season. At times, the Jacksonville defense has done their part, but offensively the Jags are an utter mess right now. It got so bad last week that Blake Bortles was benched in favor of Cody Kessler, although Bortles is expected to get the start in London.
Much like the Eagles, the Jaguars play in a mediocre division, which has enabled them to stay within striking distance of first place despite a disastrous October. Jacksonville is just one game behind Houston in the AFC South and will have a rather manageable schedule the second half of the season. Of course, they also don’t want to head into their bye next week on a four-game losing streak.
The Jaguars have looked dreadful over the last few weeks whereas all of Philadelphia’s losses this year have come by six points or less. But the Jags know a thing or two about playing in London, which is practically a second home for them. That’s an advantage that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially considering how the Eagles have found unique ways to lose over the past month. I’ll take a chance with the Jags winning this game.
This game will be the first time the Eagles have traveled to London. It’s important to keep in mind that teams tend to struggle in their first attempt. On the other hand, Jacksonville has made the trip five previous times, going 3-2 in those games. More importantly, the Jaguars have won three in a row in London, including a 44-7 blowout of the Ravens last year. If nothing else, the Jags know the routine of traveling overseas, which could be an advantage.
It’s also important to remember that Jacksonville still has the best pass defense in the NFL. In their last five games, Patrick Mahomes is the only quarterback to pass for more than 200 yards against the Jaguars. Even with some lopsided losses in recent weeks, the Jags still have a top-10 defense that’s allowed more than 20 points just twice this season, so they remain tough on that side of the ball.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia offense still isn’t clicking, even though Carson Wentz has been back for over a month. The lopsided win a couple weeks ago against the Giants seems to be an aberration. Philadelphia is still struggling to run the ball without Jay Ajayi, which has made is more difficult to turn Wentz’s productivity into points in the red zone. Outside of Ajayi, the Eagles have just three rushing touchdowns this season. Relying solely on Wentz and the passing game is not a strategy that is likely to have success against Jacksonville’s pass defense.
Of course, the Jags have their own set of problems on the offensive side of the ball. They simply aren’t the same team with the injured Leonard Fournette standing on the sidelines. T.J. Yeldon is not the same kind of runner, and he’s also been banged up recently. Without a consistent running game, Bortles is going to struggle.
However, Carlos Hyde, who was recently acquired in a trade with the Browns, is expected to be active on Sunday. He may not be Fournette, but he does give the Jaguars the same kind of power back that can fit that role in their offense. If he can get it going, things should start to turn around for Bortles and the Jacksonville offense.
I’m not expecting the Jags to make a 180-degree turn around in one week. But if they can get anything out of their offense, the defense should be able to put them in a position to win. With the Eagles having their own problems on offense and the Jags being more comfortable in London, I like Jacksonville to pull off the surprise win this week.