NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
These Thursday night games are supposed to be a fairly big advantage for the home teams because they don't have to travel and thus have an extra day to prepare, but the home sides are 0-2 straight up and ATS early in the season. Unfortunately, I've backed the home team in both games. Last week, Carolina was a 20-14 loser to Tampa Bay as a 6.5-point favorite. We did improve, though, to 2-0 on the TNF totals as that game stayed well "under" the number of 49.5.
This Thursday, the NFL is force-feeding us yet another prime-time Titans vs. Jaguars game, this one from Jacksonville. It feels like every year these teams play on Thursday night, and it's usually the lowest-rated TNF game of the year. At least the league used to stick this late in the season when we had an NBA alternative on TNT. Alas, not this early.
Jacksonville is an utter mess right now, and I don't expect Doug Marrone to be the team's head coach in about a month. The Titans looked fantastic in Week 1 in Cleveland. However, after watching the Browns on Monday, I just think they aren't that good. Tennessee came way back to earth in Week 2 vs. Indianapolis.
Titans at Jaguars Betting Story Lines
Let's start with the Jags. Kudos to Marrone for having the stones to try and win Sunday's game in Houston as a big underdog. Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, he of the best mustache in sports right now, made his first start and was solid. The former Washington State star hit DJ Chark on a 4-yard TD pass with 30 seconds left to bring the Jaguars within 13-12. Instead of kicking the near-automatic PAT, Marrone went for two. The call went to bulldozing running back Leonard Fournette, but he was stopped just shy of the goal line (although some replays seemed to indicate he might have reached the ball across). To a man, the Jags said they were glad their coach went for the win.
One story line that's somewhat overshadowing that result was Marrone nearly getting into a scuffle with star (but loudmouth) cornerback Jalen Ramsey on the sideline. Ramsey officially requested a trade on Monday. The Jaguars are asking for at least a first-round pick for him, and talent-wise he's worth it - in his first three seasons, he has been to the Pro Bowl twice and was first-team All-Pro once. But the guy is a major headache with his high-maintenance attitude. Jacksonville can't trade him to about half the league because of an infamous Ramsey interview with GQ where he ripped a ton of quarterbacks around the league. For now, we will assume Ramsey is playing on Thursday.
While I think the Jaguars might have found something at quarterback in Minshew, it's pretty clear now the Titans need to move on from former Heisman winner Marcus Mariota after this season when his rookie contract expires. I'm obviously not a scout because I thought he was going to be an excellent pro. In the Titans' 19-17 home Week 2 loss to the Colts, Mariota threw for just 154 yards. True, the Titans used a very conservative game plan, but it's because the coaches don't trust Mariota. And, to be fair, his offensive line isn't good. Mariota has been sacked eight times already. He is dealing with a quad injury but fully expected to play. Ryan Tannehill is his backup.
Titans at Jaguars Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes, the game is a pick'em with a total of 40 (lowest of Week 3). On the moneyline, the Titans are -123 and Jaguars +103. On some of the alternate lines, the Titans are -3 (+125), -3.5 (+150), -7 (+240) and -7.5 (+260). The Jags are -3 (+155) and -3.5 (+173). Tennessee is 1-0 against the spread on the road and 1-0 "over/under." Jacksonville is 0-1 ATS at home and 1-0 O/U.
The Titans are 4-12-1 ATS in their past 17 road games vs. teams with a losing home record. They are 1-4 ATS in their past five vs. the AFC South. The Jags are 5-2 ATS in their past seven September games. They are 2-5-1 ATS in their past seven vs. the division. The under is 7-3 in Tennessee's previous seven against the division. It's 6-2 in Jacksonville's. The home team is 6-2-1 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 7-2 in the past nine in Jax.
Titans at Jaguars Betting Prediction
The Titans have won the past four in this series, and the Jaguars haven't scored an offensive touchdown in the previous three. They lost the most boring game of the 2018 season at home in Week 3 last year, 9-6 to Tennessee. Mariota didn't start that game but came off the bench in place of Blaine Gabbert. Blake Bortles was typically terrible for the Jags. In Week 14 on a Thursday in Nashville, the Titans rolled 30-9 behind arguably the greatest game by a running back in NFL history. Derrick Henry rushed for 238 yards and four touchdowns, including a record-tying 99-yarder, on just 17 carries. The Jaguars completely quit in that one.
We'll stick with the home team one more Thursday. Go under that total.
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