The Jacksonville Jaguars need to play a certain way to win, but they can’t allow anything to upset a delicate balance.
If the Jaguars can run the ball a lot with Leonard Fournette, play great defense and prevent Blake Bortles from having to make any big plays, they’re fine. When something goes awry, like when Bortles threw two unlucky interceptions in a stretch of three passes – in his defense, both picks were tipped up in the air – then they’re going to struggle. We saw the Jaguars play the style they want in a dominating Week 1 win at the Houston Texans, and we saw it go haywire in a blowout Week 2 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
I think the Jaguars can keep to their plan on Sunday morning in London against the Baltimore Ravens, a game that will be streamed by Yahoo Sports.
[Watch on Yahoo: Ravens vs. Jaguars live from London Sept. 24]
The Ravens won’t score enough to put the Jaguars in a pass-only situation, especially without guard Marshal Yanda, which is a huge loss. The Ravens have played well in a 2-0 start, but the 3.5-point spread on a neutral field seems high. If there’s any edge in London it’s to the Jaguars, who play there annually now and know what to expect from the trip and all that goes along with it.
I think the Jaguars team we saw in Week 1 shows up. The Texans and Ravens are somewhat similar (Baltimore has a better quarterback situation, though), in that both want to play close, defensive games. I think it’ll be close either way, and the Jaguars have a good shot at getting the win in their part-time home of London. The Jaguars are a SuperContest play for me as well.
Here are the rest of the Week 3 against-the-spread picks:
Falcons (-3) over Lions: Pretty good week in the SuperContest last week. I never love road favorites, but I think Atlanta is the superior team. If the Lions win this one to move to 3-0, that will stamp them as contenders in the NFC North. Atlanta might be the most complete team in the NFL. (The line is minus-2.5 in the Yahoo Pro Football Pick’em.)
Colts (+1) over Browns: Before you pick the Browns, consider this from the fine folks at OddsShark: Cleveland has lost 14 straight road games, and 10 of those losses were by double digits. The last time the Browns weren’t underdogs, according to OddsShark’s archives, was Dec. 13, 2015 vs. San Francisco – a streak of 21 straight games getting points. The last time they were a pick ’em or a favorite on the road was Oct. 19, 2014 at Jacksonville. Now I’m supposed to pick them to win on the road? I know the Colts aren’t very good, but I can’t do it. (The line is even in the Yahoo Pro Football Pick’em.)
Saints (+5.5) over Panthers: I know New Orleans’ defense is awful, but I don’t think Carolina’s offense is equipped to take advantage of that, especially with tight end Greg Olsen out. That’s a major loss for the Panthers. (The line is +5.5 in the Yahoo Pro Football Pick’em.)
Chargers (+3) over Chiefs: It was tough to pick against the Chiefs, who have looked great. But the Chargers are a pretty good team, and maybe this time they won’t miss that last-second field goal.
And the rest of the picks …
Broncos (-3) over Bills: This line is begging people to take Denver, right? After what we’ve seen from the Broncos, coming off a high-profile blowout of the Cowboys, they’re giving only three points to a Bills team that got 10 first downs last week? Be careful here.
Bears (+8) over Steelers: For the same basic reason I picked the Browns over the Steelers in Week 1: The Steelers are a different team on the road. They’re not as explosive on offense for whatever reason. The difference is stark. The Bears’ injury situation worries me though.
Vikings (off) over Buccaneers: There is no line in the Yahoo Pro Football Pick’em because Sam Bradford isn’t sure to play. I’ll make this easy: If Bradford starts I will take the Vikings, if he doesn’t I’ll take the Buccaneers.
Patriots (-14.5) over Texans: I don’t think the Texans can score enough to cover even this high number. Houston’s offense is ugly.
Jets (+7) over Dolphins: I know, it’s the Jets. Before you pick the Dolphins in your survivor pool though, consider their schedule. They spent the week before the Chargers game in Los Angeles due to the hurricane. This week they play at New York. Then next week they go to London. It’s easy to see Miami sleepwalking through this game.
Giants (+6) over Eagles: Every year there’s a team I really liked (or didn’t like) before the season and I refuse to admit I was wrong until I lose many, many picks being stubborn on them. I think that team is the Giants for me this season. I just don’t believe they are this bad.
Titans (-2.5) over Seahawks: Very intriguing game. I feel like when we’re done with this, we’ll be kicking dirt on Seattle and hyping the Titans’ breakout, or realizing the Titans aren’t quite ready and the Seahawks aren’t quite finished. It’s going to be a statement game for one of these teams.
Bengals (+10) over Packers: I think the Bengals get a bit of a bump from having a new offensive coordinator calling plays, and the Packers have some serious injury issues. I don’t love what I’ve seen from the Bengals, but this is a lot of points.
Redskins (+3) over Raiders: There are nine or ten road favorites (depending on what the Browns’ line ends up) this week. That’s a ton. OddsShark’s database says the record for home underdogs in one week is 10 (Week 4 in 2004 and Week 12 in 2012) and we could match that this week if the Browns are favored at kickoff. I feel like if you picked every home underdog this week, you’d end up with a decent record. No matter how ugly some of the picks look.
Cardinals (+3) over Cowboys: See above.
Last week: 10-6
Season to date: 19-11-2
SuperContest: 5-0 last week, 7-3 season to date
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