Dog of the Week: Cards vs. Jags Pick ATS
Arizona Cardinals (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS)
Week 3 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, September 26, 2021 at 1PM EDT
Where: TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, Florida
Point Spread: ARI -7/JAC +7 (BetNow - Bet this week’s NFL picks FREE with a 100% bonus up to $1000!)
Over/Under Total: 52
The Arizona Cardinals come to Florida for a week three matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars. For Jacksonville, their home debut on Sunday didn’t go well in a 23-13 loss to the Denver Broncos. They look to make it right at home this week for their first win in the Trevor Lawrence/Urban Meyer tenure. It won’t be easy with the Arizona Cardinals coming into town. On Sunday, the Cardinals moved to 2-0, narrowly escaping at home in a 34-33 win over the Vikings on Sunday. Will the Cardinals roll in this spot or can the Jags come up with some answers and at least cover the spread? Let’s get into it!
Jacksonville: Give it Time
They haven’t looked great in two double-digit point losses to start the season. Last week, Lawrence took a step back against Denver’s defense with a pretty awful showing at home, going 14-for-31 for 118 yards and two picks. The defense has been unsupported by the offense and has struggled as a result, as well. The run-game has languished to open the season, with James Robinson off to a sluggish start. You got guys like Marvin Jones getting a bulk of the targets. It’s not realty a great look.
Still, with Lawrence getting his first taste of NFL action and Meyer also acclimating to this new setting, some bumpy moments could be anticipated especially in the early season. Those anticipating a traveling comedy show all season long are going to come up short at some point. Roles are being established, strengths and weaknesses are being determined, and key people on that Jacksonville sideline are still feeling things out. It’s just that you see Arizona looks pretty good, their offense is in high-gear already and they’re winning. Pitted against a team that is in the “finding their bearings” stage of their development, it creates a jarring dichotomy that almost makes one almost mindlessly defer to an extreme outcome—in this case, an Arizona blowout.
What the Jaguars Can Do
Some of their hopes aren’t even football-related. That’s usually not a good sign, but it adds some credence to them possibly covering the spread. The Cardinals don’t make it down to Jacksonville that often. It’s an out-of-the-way foreign locale. The Cardinals have a little breathing room. Sure, it’s early in the season, not a time to really catch teams sleeping. But the opponent is undemanding and they aren’t in any kind of urgent position. And that alone has been good enough to cover a lot of spreads in the past.
In week one, Lawrence was over 300 yards with three touchdowns, making good use of his variety of aerial weapons. There were turnovers, but at least some offensive vitality was present. That wasn’t present in week one with an anemic offensive performance. But whereas the “D” didn’t show up in week one, they held Denver to 23 points with not a lot of support last week. In other words, both sides of the ball have been respectable, just in different games, Maybe they can put it together a little bit this week.
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Good Spot for Cardinals?
You could definitely make that case. The disparity along both lines of scrimmage is jarring. The Jaguars’ offensive line isn’t always that bad, but their D-line is really porous and getting after Kyler Murray with his shifty legs could prove to be a tall task. This is a spot where the Cardinals could unveil the full scope of their offensive variety. They should be able to get Chase Edmonds and James Conner going out of the backfield. Getting Rondale Moore going last week to go along with DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk, gives them a growing cast of contributors and a variety that can really wreak havoc on a defense like Jacksonville’s. Not that the Jaguars don’t have contributors on their “D,” but there are holes and Arizona has seen this formula work against better defenses.
Still, there have been stretches during the Murray/Kingsbury regime where we see the Cardinals sailing high at home, only to put forth a flatter offensive showing on the road. This is a setting where on the heels of two strong offensive showings, you could see a Cardinals’ team take a step back. Part of being a non-elite team is that not everything takes flight every single week. And against the Jaguars, it’s not like they need to be flying high to win. Deep inside, they know that. And it could result in a Cardinals team that isn’t exactly shot from a cannon this week.
An attacking and stout Cardinals “D” that we saw in week one wasn’t really evident last week. That can happen with the Vikings and their vast offensive potential, something the Jaguars don’t yet possess. Still, we saw an Arizona defense in week two that Lawrence and Company could exploit to a greater degree than they were able to against a tough Denver defense last week. But with so many things on Jacksonville in a developmental stage, from their own offense to a young secondary rife with potential, it’s a tricky game to try to time when things might come together better.
Take the Home Dog
Arizona is in many ways what Jacksonville is trying to be. With a first-time head coach from college with the number-one pick at QB, Arizona went through some tribulations to get to where they are. Jacksonville is now in the beginning chapters of where the Cardinals once were with a lot of the same conditions in place. Not to discount the very real possibility of a through and non-competitive Arizona win, but I sense a Cardinals team with a little less edge and a Jaguars’ team that is able to move the ball against this defense resulting in a Jags’ cover on Sunday. I’ll take Jacksonville.
Loot’s Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Jacksonville Jaguars plus 7 points. Want more picks? Get Ben Burns NFL Game of the Month for only $30 here!
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