New York Jets (5-7 SU, 6-6 ATS) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10 SU, 6-6 ATS)
NFL Week 14
Date/Time: Sunday, December 9th, 2012, 1:00 p.m. EST
Where: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.
TV: CBS/DirecTV 711
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NYJ -2.5/JAX +2.5
Over/Under Total: 38.5
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It’s hard to believe the circus sideshow that is the New York Jets could get any crazier, but that’s exactly what’s happening these days and it could get worse when the three-ring clown show led by ringmaster Rex Ryan goes on the road to Everbank Field to take on the two-win Jacksonville Jaguars in a meaningless AFC showdown on CBS.
If the Jets haven’t been enveloped in a QB controversy all season long with the whole Mark Sanchez-Tim Tebow debate, now you can add third-stringer Greg McElroy into the mix too. With Sanchez mired in one of his worse games as a professional, throwing three killer interceptions and playing ineffective from the opening kickoff, the Jets put in McElroy who went 5-for-7 and led the Jets on their only touchdown drive in a snoozer of a, 7-6, win last Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
Sanchez’s struggles have led to all sorts of speculation about which quarterback will start this weekend in Jacksonville, with Jets owner Woody Johnson coming out and saying he would prefer McElroy, while GM Mike Tannenbaum and OC Tony Sparano voicing support for Sanchez. The speculation came to an end early on Wednesday morning when Ryan announced that Sanchez would indeed keep his starting job, but with players lining up behind him to take snaps the instant he starts to struggle again, the fourth-year pro out of Southern Cal has little to no confidence right now which is a death sentence in the NFL.
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The good news for Jets fans (if there is such a thing) is that they play Jacksonville this Sunday. The Jaguars lost again last week on the road in Buffalo (34-18), and are currently in a chase with the Kansas City Chiefs for the No. 1 pick in next year’s NFL Draft (they’d pick 2nd as of now due to strength of schedule). With backup QB Chad Henne playing the last three weeks, at least the Jags have been competitive (kind of), but it’s still a giant leap for coach Mike Mularkey to get them to stay with the rest of the NFL including the Jets even though the Jets can’t seem to get out of their own way right now.
Even with all of the drama in New York, oddsmakers still opened the game on Sunday with the Jets as 1-point favorites on the road. With some early sharp money coming in on the Jets, most sportsbooks were forced to move the point spread up to minus -2.5 in order to stop bettors from fading the Jags.
The over/under total opened at 39 and has dropped the hook to 38.5 at most sportsbooks when bettors envisioned a game featuring two of the worst offenses in the NFL having a pillow fight all game and sided early and often (75%) on the under.
It’s easy to see why bettors are flocking to the under, especially since you don’t know what you’ll get with the Jets offense week-to-week, but at least on paper this matchup consists of the Jets 26th-ranked scoring offense (19 ppg) going up against the Jaguars 30th-ranked scoring offense (17.2 ppg).
Although Henne has made them a little better since he’s gone in behind center, the Jags might be without breakout receiver Cecil Shorts too, since he left last week with a concussion and has yet to be cleared to play this week. Add into the mix that the Jags are still without Maurice Jones-Drew at running back, and now backup Rashard Jennings (concussion), and there’s reason to believe that Jacksonville will be even worse than their 283 total yards per game average (32nd) and 79 rushing yards per game (32nd) this week against the Jets.
If the Jets still can’t find a way to score this week, especially when they face the Jaguars 31st-ranked defense (405 ypg) and 30th-ranked scoring defense (allowing 28.5 ppg), then I don’t know what they could possibly do to get better other then implode the whole unit and start over from scratch.
The Jets won big over the Jaguars last season in New York, 32-3, but that win snapped a modest three-game win streak Jacksonville had on them dating all the way back to the 2005 season. Jacksonville is also a perfect 3-0 SU in games against the Jets played in Florida (’06, ’02 and 1996), so as the say in the classic movie Dumb and Dumber “you’re saying there’s a chance.”
Although most of the money has come in on the Jets and has caused the line to climb almost two points, history tells us that the Jaguars are the better wager since Jacksonville is 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings versus the Jets.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I still believe that the Jags are a better team behind Henne. I’ve also lost all faith in a Jets team that should of replaced both their QB and head coach weeks ago. I’m betting the Jags plus the points.
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