Detroit Lions (3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6 SU, 4-3 ATS)
NFL Week 9
Date/Time: Sunday, November 4th, 2012, 1:00 p.m. EST
Where: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.
TV: FOX/DirecTV 705
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Det. -3.5/Jax. +3.5
Over/Under Total: 44
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The Detroit Lions will try and continue their climb back into the NFC playoff picture this Sunday when they travel into the hostile territory of EverBank Field to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in an early game on Fox.
The Lions started the year 1-3 and have since regrouped and won two of three following a bye week, including last week when they held off the feisty Seattle Seahawks at home, 28-24. With 352 yards and three touchdown passes, Matthew Stafford finally had a game that everyone expected from him all along, but it’s clear the Lions will climb as far back into the NFC playoff picture as Stafford’s right arm will take them.
Jacksonville has lost four in a row now following a good showing on the road in Green Bay last Sunday, 24-15. After good showings on the road in recent weeks (lost in OT at Oakland 26-23), the Jaguars are hoping that home-cooking and the familiar surroundings of EverBank Field will be the extra push they need that gets them over the hump and into the win column again.
If the Jaguars do get back into the win column it will happen as underdogs at home, since oddsmakers set the opening point spread with Detroit as 4-point favorites. With the early money siding with the Jags, most sportsbooks have dropped the line to minus -3.5 at least, with a few online sportsbooks down to -3.
The over/under total opened at 44 and has stood for the most part at most books, but there are a few both offshore and in Las Vegas that have dropped it by the hook to make the number 43.5.
If this game were based on firepower, then the Lions would be gigantic favorites. Stafford is coming into his own and the Lions seem content having him throw it 50 times a game to young playmakers Calvin Johnson, Titus Young and Brandon Pettigrew. With the Jacksonville secondary still likely to be missing both of their starting corners (Rashean Mathis/Derek Cox both questionable), I can’t imagine the Lions won’t be poised to take advantage of them missing on Sunday.
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The Jaguars have the league’s worst offense in just about every category except rushing yards per game (87 ypg - 27th), but with Maurice Jones-Drew still nursing a sprained foot, even that facet of the Jags attack is struggling. QB Blaine Gabbert has played well in recent weeks and has protected the ball and limited the mistakes, but with a Detroit defense that is sturdy against the run (112 ypg - 18th) and dangerous to pass against (214 ypg - 9th; 17 sacks), he will need players like Cecil Shorts and Rashad Jennings to have huge games and contribute.
The last time these two tangled in their NFC-AFC series was four years ago in 2008, a 38-14 victory for the Jaguars on the road. In that game David Garrard outdueled the Lions combo of Daunte Culpepper and Drew Stanton at QB, so its risky taking anything from that game and applying it to this Sunday’s tilt. Jacksonville has actually won three of the four meetings with Detroit, including both games at home (in 2004, 1998). All four games in the series were won by the favorite too.
The betting trends are pretty ugly for both teams. The Lions are just 4-9-1 ATS in their last 14 games overall, and Jacksonville is just 2-5 ATS at home in EverBank.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Just about everyone is taking the Lions on this one (75% or 3-to-1 is on Det.), yet the line is dropping? Jacksonville should cover at +3.5 and they just might pull off the shocker straight up. Take Jacksonville plus the points.
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