Chiefs-8.5 under 44.5
Falcons +6 Over 48.5
Bills at Jaguars
When you think about this years Jacksonville team, you automatically envision their stifling defense. A secondary with two cornerbacks that can play man and be trusted in single coverage vs. any wide receiver core in the league, combined with a defensive line that ranks #1 in pass rush. These will be key factors in this game in minimizing what the Buffalo offense will be able to do. With the ability to lock down man to man with the sub-par Buffalo wideouts, and lining up vs. an Offensive line that ranks 27th in adjusted sack rate (8.6%), look for the Sacksonville to create negative plays all day long. The #1 defensive line in pass rush, #1 In DVOA vs. the pass, but where they can be vulnerable is on the ground, where they rank 26th.
The entire week, bettors have been following LeSean McCoy’s status closely, as I’m writing this, his twitter account posted GM. We can assume this means he is playing, but how close will he be to 100%. When playing vs. a team with such a bad run defense most NFL backups would be able to be relied on, but the drop off to 10-year veteran Mike Tolbert is as drastic as any other position in the NFL, so McCoy is a key factor. When you look at the Final regular season stats, you see the Jaguars ended 26th overall in DVOA vs the run, but that can be credited to the horrible start to the season where they even allowed the Jets to rush for 256 yards in week 4. The Jaguars tightened up drastically, in the final nine games of the season, the allowed a shameful 3.4 yards per carry and only gave up four scores to the position.
The way to hurt the Jaguars could be using the formula the 49ers practiced in week 16, where not only did they rush for 128 yards, but the San Francisco running backs were lethal catching the ball, racking up 103 yards on nine reception. This will also be key, and McCoy will be the main piece to that puzzle. Shady, has been vital to the Buffalo offense, he is responsible for 33% of his team’s offense, second in the NFL only behind Todd Gurley. If he can play his usual role, Buffalo will be able to extend drives while executing a conservative gameplan. The game calls for 12 MPH winds so the ground game will be pivotal and the Jags Leonard Fournette looks primed for the postseason. In last weeks matchup, where Coach Doug Marrone played his starters to try and “gain momentum,” the ball carrier logged over 80% of the team’s snaps.
This is a good sign going into this week proving the trust the coach has in him. Is it trust in his rookie back or the lack of is his quarterback Blake Bortles. Bortles has been great in situations with no pressure. In first halves this year, he holds a 13 to 3 TD-INT ratio, in the closing half 8 to 10. In games, while the margin is 0-7 points, he has tossed more interceptions than touchdowns (4-6), good for a 62.7 QBR. When the team leads by 15+ points, you would figure he has no need to throw but that’s where most of his scores have come from, 13 to be exact, good for a 104.6 rating. Look for a conservative game plan from Coach Marrone and his staff leaning on the ground game, early and often.
The game plan for both teams will be the same, limit mistakes and rely on their defenses that thrive on turnovers and sacks behind strong rushing attacks. Although, I want to take the Jaguars. Usually, a spread so big tied to a low total is a recipe for disaster. With running being a such a key to this contest, the clock will be your friend. Even if the Jaguars are to pull away, keeping the clock running and limiting what Bortles has to do will be the winning formula. Under 39.5 will be in pocket with the Bills struggling to score the majority of the afternoon and the Jags doing just enough, to advance and limit mistakes.
Play Under 39.5
Play Jaguars 1st quarter-.5
Play Jaguars -6 First Half
Play Bills Team Total Under 14.5
Panthers at Saints
No Play, everything points to the Saints, but I just don’t like facing any opponent on multiple occasions in a season. Much less three times. Sometimes the best play is no play. Pass on the late game.
Prediction Saints 27 Panthers 20