The New Orleans Saints will look to keep things rolling without Drew Brees as they head to the Sunshine State to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 6. Kickoff will commence at 1:00 EST on Sunday, October 13 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. Fans throughout the southeast and a few other select markets can watch the game on CBS.
Oddsmakers list the Jaguars as 1.5-point favorites at home with an over/under of 44 points. Click here for a full list of the NFL betting odds in Week 6.
To the surprise of many, the Saints are 3-0 since losing Brees to a thumb injury that should keep him out at least a few more weeks. New Orleans has found different ways to win games in those three games. They used a defensive touchdown and special teams touchdown to beat the Seahawks. They held the Cowboys to just 10 points in a 12-10 defensive slugfest. New Orleans also got a strong offensive effort from Teddy Bridgewater and company to knock off the Bucs 31-24 last week.
At 4-1, the Saints are getting along just fine without Brees and sit atop the NFC South standings. With back-to-back road games against the Jaguars and Bears the next two weeks, New Orleans will likely face their biggest challenges of the season in the next two weeks. However, they’ll play a light schedule in November, which should be around the time Brees returns. Win or lose this week, the Saints are in good shape.
The Jags, meanwhile, are trying to stay afloat with rookie Gardner Minshew taking over at quarterback for the injured Nick Foles. A last-minute drive against the Broncos may have saved the season, helping put Jacksonville at 2-3 rather than 1-4. The good news is that 2-3 only puts them a game off the pace in the crowded AFC South.
Jacksonville will have to take advantage of a schedule that has them at home in two of their next three games before heading off to London in early November. The Jags were dominant in their last home game, a 20-7 win over the Titans. Their only other home game was a loss to the Chiefs in Week 1, so it’s plausible to think that the Jaguars can get on track after last week’s loss to the Panthers by coming home.
To be honest, I had my doubts about the Saints when they lost Brees, but they’ve found ways to win games in the last three weeks. If Bridgewater has a big game, that’s great, but New Orleans hasn’t been reliant on him. Meanwhile, I think the Jags are playing with fire the more they count on Minshew, even if he’s looked the part of a bonafide NFL-caliber quarterback. With the Saints winning in Seattle a few weeks ago, they won’t be bothered by going on the road, so I’ll take a chance on New Orleans as a road underdog.
After a couple of sluggish performances, Bridgewater finally had a breakout game last week against the Buccaneers. He and Michael Thomas were unstoppable, as Bridgewater threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns with Thomas on the receiving end for 182 yards and two touchdowns. To be fair, it came against the Tampa defense, which is one of the worst in the league against the pass. But the Jacksonville defense has been picked apart at times this year. Plus, it’s anybody’s guess if Jalen Ramsey will play this week, so there could be opportunities for Thomas to have another big game.
Perhaps more importantly, the Jags were shredded last week by Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey, who ran for 176 yards and had 61 more yards receiving. He sat out most of the fourth quarter or else it could have been worse. If the Jags couldn’t stop McCaffrey, they could have their hands full again with Alvin Kamara, who has a similar skillset as both a rusher and receiver coming out of the backfield.
On the other side of the ball, Minshew might have a tough challenge ahead of him facing the New Orleans defense. While he’s kept the ball moving and been able to put points on the board, Minshew has been confused at times by complex defenses. Don’t think that Sean Payton hasn’t taken notice and will give him some exotic coverages this week. Minshew has also fumbled the ball seven times this year, which could be problematic against a team that has 16 sacks this year and has been one of the best in the NFL at getting pressure on the quarterback.
Jacksonville’s best chance in this game is to ride Leonard Fournette has much as possible to keep the Saints from teeing off on Minshew. However, this is the same New Orleans defense that limited the Cowboys to 45 rushing yards two weeks ago. The Seahawks and Rams barely reached 100 rushing yards against the New Orleans defense, so it’s a good bet that Fournette alone won’t carry the Jags in this game.
Even if the jury is still out on Bridgewater, keep in mind that Jacksonville is also playing a backup quarterback. The Saints have better talent overall while the Jaguars aren’t far from being 1-4 on the year. Quite frankly, I’m a little surprised that New Orleans isn’t a road favorite in this game, which makes me feel good about taking the Saints to win.