Jaguars vs. Panthers Pick ATS 10/6/19
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2 SU, 3-1 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS)
NFL Week 5
Date/Time: Sunday October 6th, 2019. 1:00PM (EST)
Where: Bank of America Stadium Charlotte, N.C.
Point Spread:JAX +3.5/CAR -3.5 (Bovada)
Over/Under Total: 41
On Sunday, the Carolina Panthers will host the Jacksonville Jaguars inside Bank of America Stadium in a game that will feature two of the most hyped backup quarterbacks in the league. For the visiting Jaguars, “Minshew Mania” is in full effect following a comeback win last week in Denver. Quarterback Gardner Minshew improved to 2-1 as a starter following Nick Foles injury in the opener and the charismatic quarterback has performed well since earning the opportunity. Single handedly Minshew has restored hope and perhaps some excitement into Jacksonville offense. Following last week’s comeback victory, the Jaguars have climbed back into contention in the AFC South.
Similar to Jacksonville, the Panthers have renewed hope in the form of a backup quarterback. The Panthers started the season 0-2 on the heels of terrible play from franchise quarterback Cam Newton. When Newton was sidelined with an injury following a week 2 loss against Tampa Bay, backup quarterback Kyle Allen provided a spark to the offense with a 4 touchdown performance in a dominating win against Arizona. Then last week the Panthers backed up that performance with an impressive road victory over Houston backed by solid play yet again from Allen who completed 71% passing and the help of some sensational running from Christian McCaffrey. As a result, the Panthers appear to be coming together and have seemingly turned things around. The question this week is can Allen and the Panthers offense continue their success against a tough Jacksonville defense?
Jaguars vs. Panthers comparisons
On paper, these two teams are pretty even and perhaps offer several parallels in playing style. Both defenses are really good. Carolina’s strength comes in their front 7 where they have been able to get after the quarterback frequently. The Panthers have averaged more than 4 sacks per game throughout the season which ranks 2nd in the NFL behind New England. Jacksonville has been able to apply pressure significantly as well averaging 3.5 sacks on the season which ranks 5th in the league meaning neither defense should allow these young quarterbacks to get comfortable. The biggest difference in Jacksonville’s defense is the strength in the secondary where they can match-up comfortably with the Panthers top receivers.
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On offense, neither team has shown the ability to dominate defenses but they have found ways to remain effective. For Carolina, the offense revolves around running back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey is the focal point on the ground and in the passing game. McCaffrey is currently averaging more than 150 yards from scrimmage with over 100 yards per game on the ground. Despite the one blow-up game against Arizona, the Panthers’ production throughout 2019 has been mostly attributed towards their rushing success. Meanwhile, Jacksonville’s offense mirrors the Panthers closely in terms of total offense, scoring, and efficiency. The difference is that the majority of Jacksonville’s success has been attributed to the improving pass game. Minshew has thrown the ball extremely well hitting near 70% passing with 7 touchdowns and just 1 pick. Meanwhile DJ Chark Jr, Dede Westbrook, and Chris Conley provide reliable options in the receiving game. The only thing missing from this offense is consistency/explosiveness on the ground which leads me into the conversation surrounding Leonard Fournette.
Leonard Fournette looking for consistency in Jacksonville
Throughout the first two years of his career, Leonard Fournette’s potential was handicapped by injuries that resulted in a lot of missed playing time. Fournette entered 2019 healthy but struggled in the early weeks. Through the first 2 games, Fournette was held to just over 100 yards on nearly 30 combined carries. In the week 3 win against Tennessee, Fournette was held to -3 yards on 14 carries before he broke open a 69 yard run to salvage the performance. Finally last week, Fournette exploded for a career-high 225 yards on 29 carries to lead the offense in last week’s win at Denver.
The question heading forward is can Fournette and Jacksonville find consistency on the ground? The ground game has been great and bad all at the same time. However when things are going good, Jacksonville’s offense is extremely tough to handle. The Jaguars star running back has yet to find the end zone this season and while I’m sure a touchdown is coming soon; the Jaguars need to find some consistency on the ground, especially against defenses like Carolina. If the Jaguars can establish the run which I expect to be a focal point, it really opens up the offense. Everyone knows that the Panthers have some holes in the secondary but Fournette has the ability to keep the chains moving to keep drives intact.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Consider this a smaller play than normal because of the parity within the match-up but I like the Jaguars as the better overall team. I believe they find a way to win despite a rather tough match-up. Take Jacksonville +3.5