Jacksonville Jaguars (5-9 SU, 7-6-1 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (5-9 SU, 6-7-1 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date/Time: Sunday, December 27, 2015 at 4:05PM EST
Where: Mercedes Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
by Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: JAC +3/NO -3
Over/Under Total: 47.5
The Jacksonville Jaguars will come to the Superdome on Sunday to face the New Orleans Saints in week 16 action. This is a battle of 5-win teams who are both coming off losses. Jacksonville dropped their third of their last four games on Sunday, losing at home to the Falcons, 23-17. A season that showed promise at 4-4 has fallen apart at the seams a bit, though its still fair to say the Jags are on the rise. The same cant be said for the Saints, who lost on Monday Night Football to the Lions at home, 35-27.
The Saints have lost three in a row at home and 5 out of 6 overall. The season is officially sideways for New Orleans. And Drew Brees was seen with a walking boot on as he addressed the media after the game. He has a foot injury that he will reportedly try to play through. He went over 4000 yards for the 10th straight time against the Lions while surpassing 60000 yards in his sterling career, as the Saints attempted to overcome an awful start to the game, falling behind, 28-3 in the third quarter, before narrowing the gap to one score. The Saints remain the leagues top passing team and Brees can still air it out to guys like Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Marques Colston, and Benjamin Watson. But they are really feeling the loss of Mark Ingram who was lost for the season and their offense is very one-dimensional.
The magic is gone in New Orleans. This is the flip side of the coin after their run of success. The formula gets disruptedguys leave, players get old, rosters get revamped, and not all teams are built to last. In their heyday, they could do it all. Brees was spraying it around to a vast cast of playmakers and they could run the ball and play defense. Now the cast is smaller, they cant really run the ball consistently, and the defense is easily the worst in the league.
The Saints can still move the ball and hit the scoreboard with regularity. But the defense undermines their every effort, putting Brees and Company behind the 8-ball more often than not. And even though Jacksonville is still trying to work things out, New Orleans will be tested this Sunday. This defense is last in points allowed with 31 a game, last against the run, and second-to-last against the pass. Theyve had some horrendous defenses over the years and this might just be the worst yet. It says a lot when you have the leagues top aerial offense and are still just 5-9.
The Jaguars are in the AFC South, where they could have made a move, but it wasnt meant to be. On Sunday, they bottomed out by losing at home to a Falcons team that hadnt tasted victory in two months. The previous week, they had beaten Indy, 51-16. But in the two games before that, they lost to Tennessee and San Diego, two of the worst teams in the conference. All their other wins this season were close victories over Miami, Buffalo, Baltimore, and Tennessee. And their only road win this year was a 2-point win over the Ravens, not counting their win over the Bills in London.
Jacksonville is still trying to work some things out as a long-suffering franchise that hasnt tasted any success in years. And they have made measurable progress. Blake Bortles has come along nicely in his second season. An injury has sidelined TJ Yeldon (questionable), who had some good moments in his rookie season as Jacksonvilles featured back. Replacing him in Denard Robinson, who has put up some good performances in his time with the Jags, though he got hurt against Atlanta, which would leave them exceptionally thin at RB. Bortles should surpass 4000 yards in this game and works nicely with Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, who will both be over 1000 yards this season. After injuries and inconsistent play threatened to derail TE Julius Thomas season, he has since bounced back with some big games. This is an offense that looks ahead to a promising future.
The Jaguars defense lags behind the offense and will need more work before theyre a serviceable unit that consistently makes positive contributions to the team. In a bottom-line sense, theyre pretty bad30th in points allowed and 25th against the pass. Its just not a terribly impactful group. At times, they apply a nice pass rush, but theyre not a difference-making group often enough. For Jacksonville, they are forced to depend on their pass-game for basically all of their production at this point. This defense can be decent on occasion, but this looks like a spot where they could struggle.
Jacksonville was able to scale taller heights this season and that counts as progress. But when asked to make a run at a division no one seemed to want to win, they appeared to hit a wall. And while they were able to beat a suddenly-spiraling Colts team a few weeks ago, losing to an Atlanta team at home is a real low-point and you have to wonder what they have left in the tank for the last few weeks of the season.
Its not an easy call by any means. As is the case with most teams that are 5-9, the range of play can be quite wide. Thats especially true with the Saints and to a lesser degree the Jaguars, being that their peaks can be high, with the valleys getting really low at times. At the end of the day, something just tells me that New Orleans is a little better right now, with a higher potential to have something go well.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the New Orleans Saints minus 3 points.
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