The spiraling Washington Redskins are hopeful that playing the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend is what they need to get them back on track in the playoff race. Game time is set for 1:00 EST on Sunday, December 16, at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. The game can be seen on CBS in local markets.
According to the Week 15 betting odds, the Jaguars are 7-point favorites at home. However, that line is down slightly after the Jags opened the week as 8-point favorites. The over/under for the game is set at 36 points.
Things went from bad to worse for the Redskins last week, as they were humiliated by the rival Giants 40-16 at home. It was Washington’s fourth straight loss, dropping them to 6-7 on the year. With both Alex Smith and Colt McCoy suffering season-ending injuries, the Redskins will now turn to Josh Johnson at quarterback after Mark Sanchez failed so miserably last week. Of course, going with a quarterback who was playing in a charity basketball tournament a couple of weeks ago doesn’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence.
On the bright side, the Redskins remain in the playoff hunt in the NFC. They are just half a game behind the Vikings for the final wild-card spot. To be fair, there are four other teams all within a game of that spot as well. However, all of those teams have serious problems as well. If the Redskins can snap their losing streak this week against Jacksonville, they still have a chance to play their way into the postseason.
The Jaguars, meanwhile, have had their own quarterback problems this season. Cody Kessler is poised to get his third straight start after replacing Blake Bortles. Of course, the Jags have managed just 15 points over the last two weeks with Kessler as the starter, and two of those points were scored by the Jacksonville defense on a safety.
At 4-9, the Jaguars have long been eliminated from playoff contention. However, they still have a chance to make an impact in the playoff race. After playing the Redskins, Jacksonville closes out the season against the Dolphins and Texans, two teams that are also in the playoff picture. However, the Jags were lacking a little fight in last week’s 30-9 loss to the rival Titans. It remains to be seen how motivated they’ll be late in a losing season.
I know things in Washington have never looked worse than they do right now, but I still draw a line at thinking the Jags will win by at least a touchdown. Remember, Jacksonville’s only win since Week 4 was a 6-0 win over the Colts a couple of weeks ago. As much as the Redskins are spiraling, the Jaguars can’t be trusted either. I’ll take my chances with the Redskins beating the spread.
As mentioned, the Jacksonville offense has scored just one touchdown and two field goals in the two games since Kessler took over for Bortles. That’s 13 points over two games for a team that’s now supposed to win by at least a touchdown. That doesn’t make any sense to me, which is why this spread is so hard to believe.
For what it’s worth, Kessler has been decent these past two games. He’s not a threat throwing down the field, but he’s limited his mistakes for the most part. Jacksonville’s problem is that everything they do offensively is predicated on running the ball. On the season, Leonard Fournette is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry, a big step back from last season. He was also held in check last week against the Titans, who were expecting the Jags to run the ball and were ready to stop it.
The silver lining for the Jags is that Washington’s defense has struggled to stop the run most of the season. In fact, they were completely dismantled by Saquon Barkley and the Giants a week ago. That being said, stopping the run will surely be a point of emphasis for them after such a pitiful performance. Also, Fournette is not the same kind of big-play threat that Barkley was last week. Plus, the Redskins know that the Jags probably can’t hurt them in through the air, so they can sell out to stop Fournette.
On the other side of the ball, Johnson wasn’t terrible last week, especially for someone who hasn’t thrown a pass in an NFL game since 2011. For what it’s worth, the likes of Jordan Reed and Josh Doctson are questionable to play this week, so the Redskins will have a limited set of playmakers for Johnson to use. But Johnson has been in the league a long time, even if he hasn’t garnered many snaps. He also has good mobility, which should help considering Washington’s ailing offensive line. He showed enough in garbage time last week to make me think he can give the Redskins a decent performance.
Obviously, there’s a lot working against the Redskins in this game. But unless they decide to completely give up on the season, they’re going to play hard and give themselves a chance against the Jags. Jacksonville simply doesn’t have the offensive weapons, regardless of the opponent, to score a lot of points. It’s asking a lot for them to cover a 7-point spread. I like my chances with Washington at least beating the spread.