Don’t look now, but the Jacksonville Jaguars may not only get into the playoffs, but they might also win a division title. That’s because the Tennessee Titans, who were the top seed in the AFC last season, have slumped to a 7–7 record, leaving Jacksonville just one game behind.
That’s the kind of thing BetOnline customers might not have believed at the beginning of the season, as this team was coming off the disaster that Urban Meyer created when he was the head coach. It would appear to be a little question that Trevor Lawrence, who was taken with the top pick in the draft last year, is happy to deal with a staff headed up by a former NFL quarterback.
Doug Pederson, who guided the Philadelphia Eagles to their loan Super Bowl victory, replaced Meyer. The Jags supported Lawrence with more speed at the wide receiver spot and a more explosive ground game with Travis Etienne, Lawrence‘s teammate at Clemson.
Jacksonville is only 6–8 on the season, but they’re only one game behind Tennessee in the AFC South, and therefore they are right in the thick of the playoff race.
The New York Jets are 7–7 and on the outside looking in when it comes to the three available wildcard spots in the AFC. Currently, they are one game behind Miami and the Los Angeles Chargers and two games behind Baltimore. So they can’t really afford to lose, as they play host to the Jaguars in the Thursday night NFL game televised by Amazon Prime Video. They will kick it off at 8:20 PM Eastern time at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands.
The Jets are laying a small number in the Thursday night NFL odds that are posted at BetOnline.
New York Jets -2.5
Jacksonville Jaguars +2.5
Over 36.5 points -113
Under 36.5 points -107
The problem for the Jets has been at the quarterback spot. Zach Wilson started the season injured, so Joe Flacco was behind center early. Wilson came back and was abysmal, and his attitude got him benched. Mike White came in with mixed results, then went out with a rib injury. So things are back in the hands of Wilson, who had 317 yards passing against Detroit last week in a 20–17 loss.
Quinnen Williams, who was just named to the Pro Bowl, was inactive last week but should play on Thursday night. He sat out against the Lions with a calf injury. That might make things a little more difficult for Lawrence, who could have a very hard time dealing with the weather conditions in MetLife Stadium. There is a 100% chance of rain, and the winds have a way of swirling in strange ways. This may affect the game and disappoint fans betting on NFL.
So maybe the ground game is the key, and Etienne averages five yards per carry this season. He’s been an upgrade over James Robinson, who actually wound up with the Jets.
And speaking of the ground game, that’s something New York has not really had consistently since Breece Hall, the brilliant rookie, went out with a season-ending knee injury. The Jets are buoyed with the hope that they can penetrate a Jacksonville defensive front that will be without their top run-stuffer, Foley Fatukasi, who’s out with an ankle injury.
Jacksonville had 503 total yards last week in a dramatic 40–34 overtime win over the Dallas Cowboys. But we don’t expect them to have a field day against the Jets and their defense, which has given up the third-fewest yards in the NFL. It’s become increasingly evident that Sauce Gardner, the rookie cornerback who was voted to a starting spot in the Pro Bowl, can take away one side of the field. Head coach Robert Saleh, who was the defensive coordinator with San Francisco, has done a great job of turning around the fortunes of this stop unit, which has surrendered just 13 touchdowns from scrimmage.
The question is whether Wilson can make enough plays at quarterback. He doesn’t have to be great; he just has to minimize mistakes. Lawrence has thrown only one interception in his last six games, but that doesn’t sound like the kind of thing that will sustain itself, especially when you have the elements to deal with. This is a short number, and we’ll take the opportunity to leave points with the home-standing Jets, who, like the Jags, are a desperate outfit.
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