NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: New England Patriots at Jacksonville Jaguars
Not a great look for the AFC South in Week 1.
The Texans lost a fumble on their first offensive play, were quickly down 7-0 in New England, and never had much of a chance after that in losing 27-20. The Titans dealt with the longest game in NFL history due to weather delays, saw one of the NFL's top tight ends (Delanie Walker) lost for the season along with two other key injuries, and were beaten in Miami. The Colts blew a 23-10 third-quarter home lead to Cincinnati, which scored the game's final 24 points.
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The Jacksonville Jaguars were the only South team to win, although it helped they probably played the easiest opponent in the division in the New York Giants. Still, whenever you win on the road in the NFL it's an accomplishment. If the Jaguars can beat the visiting New England Patriots this Sunday in a rematch of last season's AFC title game (albeit different location), the Jags will have a two-game lead over either Houston or Tennessee because they play each other and probably a two-game lead over Indianapolis, which I expect to lose at the Washington Redskins.
As for the Patriots, frankly, I get tired of previewing them all the time, but they are the marquee franchise in the NFL right now and draw a ton of action and TV eyeballs. I'm still going to try and avoid them more often than not unless there's great betting value on one of their games. Felt obligated to preview this excellent matchup, though.
Patriots at Jaguars Betting Story Lines
The biggest Week 1 injury around the league might have been Walker's with Tennessee because he's so important to their (limited) passing game. The second-biggest might have been to Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette. He tweaked a hamstring in the 20-15 win at the Giants, and as of this writing it's not clear if he will go here. Fournette isn't the best player on the Jaguars as that would be All-Pro defensive back Jalen Ramsey.
However, Fournette might be the most important because the Jaguars don't want to put their games in the hands of QB Blake Bortles. They want to pound the ball with Fournette, eat clock and win low-scoring games. Seriously, what other team is so dependent on its running back? Dallas maybe with Ezekiel Elliott? Perhaps Arizona with David Johnson. Otherwise, this is a quarterback league. I thought Fournette was ready to have a monster season, but he just can't be trusted to stay healthy. He was limited to 13 games as a rookie and never played every game during his time at LSU. For purposes of this story, I'm going to assume he's playing. I actually think because it's the Patriots and not like the Jets or someone that Fournette will really want to be out there.
New England is so efficient that it's boring at this point. The Pats beat the Texans 27-20 as Tom Brady threw for 277 yards and three scores. He was only the third QB age 41 or older in league history to throw a Week 1 TD pass. I was curious how Brady might fare the first four weeks without security blanket WR Julian Edelman. The answer: 25 of his 39 attempts went to tight ends or running backs. Ron Gronkowski caught seven for 123 and a score.
The Patriots did lose some tailback depth as former Bengal Jeremy Hill tore his ACL against Houston and obviously is done for the year. That should mean we see first-round rookie Sony Michel in Week 2 if healthy. The former Georgia Bulldog was inactive Week 1 with a minor knee issue but was close to going.
Patriots at Jaguars Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , New England is a 1-point favorite (-120) with a total of 45. On the moneyline, the Pats are -120 and Jags +108. On the alternate lines, New England is -2 (-110) and -1.5 (-115). The Patriots are 1-0 against the spread (first road game) and 0-1 "over/under." The Jaguars are 1-0 ATS (first home game) and 0-1 O/U.
The Patriots are 14-3 ATS in their past 17 road games. The Jags are 1-10 ATS in their past 11 Week 2 games. They are 8-3 ATS in their previous 11 vs. the AFC. The under is 11-5 in New England's past 16. It's 9-2 in the Jags' past 11 vs. the AFC. The under is 3-1-1 in the past five meetings.
Patriots at Jaguars Betting Prediction
The Jaguars played well enough to win the AFC Championship Game in Foxboro back in January, but Brady threw two fourth-quarter TD passes to Danny Amendola (now in Miami) to rally his team from a 20-10 deficit to 24-20 win. It was Brady's 54th career comeback win.
The heat should really benefit the Jaguars here as it looks to be 90 and humid in Jacksonville on Sunday, although the fact this game is at 4:25 instead of 1 p.m. ET helps New England. I prefer the total here - under - than the side, but if Fournette is a go, I'll take the points.
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