Jaguars vs. Falcons Prediction 12/22/19
Jacksonville Jaguars (5-9 SU, 6-8 ATS) vs. Atlanta Falcons (5-9 SU, 6-8 ATS)
NFL Football Week 16
Date/Time: Sunday December 22nd, 2019. 1:00PM (EST)
Where:Mercedes-Benz Stadium Atlanta, G.A.
Point Spread:JAX +7.5/ATL -7.5
Over/Under Total: 45.5
Don’t look now but the Atlanta Falcons have found some late-season magic. In week 10, the Falcons scored one of the biggest upsets of the season in a 26-9 win over the Saints inside the Superdome despite being 13.5 point underdogs. After wins in three of the last five games against a few struggling NFC South foes, the Falcons struck again with another upset victory last Sunday in a 29-22 road win against the 49ers who previously owned the best record in the NFC. This time Atlanta overcame an 11 point underdog spread to score the outright victory and earn their 4th victory in the last six games. With newly found momentum, the Falcons will return home this week as 7.5 point favorites when they battle the Jacksonville Jaguars inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The point spread for this week’s game will mark the biggest spread of the season for the Falcons as favorites. Atlanta has only been favored in 4 games all season and is just 1-3 ATS in those contests. However, the Jaguars have not exactly been playing great football in recent weeks to warrant a closer spread. Jacksonville snapped a five-game losing streak last week with a 20-16 victory over the Raiders thanks to a pair of 4th quarter touchdown passes from QB Gardner Minshew to spoil the Raiders final game in Oakland. Still, it was not exactly an impressive performance by any stretch of the imagination as the Jaguars offense continued to struggle for the majority of the contest, which has been a theme in recent weeks.
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Jaguars struggling to find answers on offense
Last week, quarterback Gardner Minshew had his 2nd consecutive start since taking over for a healthy Nick Foles. In the 1st start, the Jaguars were blown out by the Chargers in a 45-10 thumping. Minshew threw for 162 yards, running back Leonard Fournette was held to just 50 yards, and the Jags offense amassed only 252 total yards. In last week’s win over the Raiders, Minshew did come through with two late touchdown passes to Chris Conley to earn the victory. However, the offense concerns remain after another subpar performance up until the final minutes of the game. Jacksonville recorded just 262 yards of offense and Fournette was held to only 42 rushing yards for the entire match.
The struggles for the offense have gotten worse throughout the season and are the root cause of the Jaguars decline with losses in 5 of the last six games. Jacksonville currently ranks 27th in scoring with just 17.9 points per game; the offense ranks 28th in 3rd down conversions, 30th in red-zone scoring, and dead last in rushing touchdowns on the season. Because of these inefficiencies on offense, the defense has also declined throughout the 2nd half of the season. The loss of CB Jalen Ramsey was definitely a setback, but the entire defense has been on the field far too often because of the offense’s inability to sustain drives.
Bet on Atlanta’s offense
The trends for Jacksonville’s decline are alarming on both sides of the football and despite the Falcons record this season; Atlanta provides an efficient scoring unit backed by one of the NFL’s top passing offenses behind the arm of QB Matt Ryan. I mentioned last week that the Falcons are mostly healthy for the first time since the beginning of the year. WR Julio Jones had a monster game last week with 13 catches for 134 yards with two touchdowns against the NFL’s top-rated pass defense. While a big game from Julio was long overdue, the Falcons still have plenty of guys that can step up on any given week. TE Austin Hooper, RB Devonta Freeman, and the emerging rookie in WR Russell Gage are all talented skill players. I expect Atlanta to continue their pass-happy attack this week and put the pressure on the struggling Jaguars. If Jacksonville’s defense continues to struggle and/or the Jaguars offense continues to stall out, Atlanta could win this one in a big way.
Jaguars vs. Falcons betting trends
Atlanta has won four of the last six games outright while going 5-2 ATS in their last seven games overall. Atlanta also has the upper hand on the Jaguars covering the spread in 5 of the previous 6 meetings. Meanwhile, the Jags are just 1-5 ATS in the last six games and 0-6 ATS in their previous six games against NFC opponents. In the past six meetings between the Falcons and Jaguars, the under has hit in 5 of the six meetings.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I am going with the hot hand approach in this game. Jacksonville’s offense is just awful, and Atlanta has a ton of momentum. Take Atlanta -7.5
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