Tennessee Titans (2-12 SU, 3-10-1 ATS) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12 SU, 4-9-1 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date and Time: Thursday Night Football, December 18, 2014 at 8:25PM EST
Where: EverBank Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida
TV: NFL Network
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TEN +2.5/JAC -2.5
Over/Under Total: 41
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On Thursday Night Football, the Tennessee Titans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Stadium. It is a battle of 2-11 teams, something that those who scheduled this game werent hoping to see. Still, it presents an interesting betting scenario. On Sunday, Jacksonville fell to the Ravens, 20-12. Also on Sunday, Tennessee lost to the Jets at home, 16-11.
These teams, being division rivals in the AFC South, already played back on October 12, with the Titans eking out a 16-14 win. Jacksonville rookie QB Blake Bortles threw for 336 yards, but could only convert it into 14 points due to some untimely turnovers, with one of those touchdowns being late when the game was basically over. The Titans went with Charlie Whitehurst, who will be back in there on Sunday. He was decent, but both offenses really struggled.
Both teams are 2-11, so its picking the lesser of two evils, in a sense. But for however bad Jacksonville has been at times this season, it seems like Tennessee is finding even new layers of bedrock as they keep redefining what rock-bottom truly means. On Sunday, their season hit its lowest depths yet with a 16-11 loss to the Jets in a battle of 2-11 teams. The Titans got off to a 5-0 start with a FG and a safety, before getting outscored 16-3 for the remainder of the game. QB Jake Locker went down with a shoulder injury, with Charlie Whitehurst filling in and simply not getting the job done. Rookie Zach Mettenberger is still out, also with an injured shoulder.
Again, both teams have been losing, but the Titans have been coming up short against some pretty shabby teams. Losing to the Texans is no disgrace, though it is when the score is 45-21. And in their last two games, to both New York teams who were a combined 6-20, they were outscored 52-18. So their last three weeks of work has been markedly uninspiring. They have lost their last 8 games and a good 6 of them were not even close.
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Again, the Jaguars havent been good, but its all relative. In their last 8 games, they have won twice, both times at home to the Browns and Giants. After the Jags beat the Giants, New York came back the next week to smash Tennessee, 36-7 in Nashville. Jacksonvilles losses have been more respectable. Theyre losing, but not getting embarrassed. In their last 8 losses, only one was in excess of 14 points and even in that game, a 23-3 loss to Indy, they werent humiliated. In contrast, most of the Titans recent losses were convincing beatings. With 2-11 teams, there can be some variance. But even with slightly more favorable results, Jacksonville is hardly a team you can count on, even at home against a team that sort of looks like its in the hunt for the first pick in the draft next year.
Tennessee will be working with their third-string QB on Sunday, with a cast of playmakers that is one of the worst in the NFL. With all respect to guys like RB Bishop Sankey, RB Shonn Greene, WR Kendall Wright, and TE Delanie Walker, it just doesnt work with so-so quarterbacking and a leaky line, replete with a defense that hasnt been able to pick up the slack. After a 2013 season where they overachieved and showed signs of promise, they have taken a pronounced step back in 2014.
Bortles had a pretty good game stat-wise the first time against the Titans. The Titans really got after Bortles in the first game, sacking him 6 times, but Bortles still was prolific in the air, with only some bad breaks keeping them from scoring some more points. Bortles is beginning to show some signs that he is beginning to connect with his young cast of playmakers–guys like Allen Hurns, Cecil Shorts, III, and Marqise Lee. Allen Robinson was having a great rookie season before going down with an injury. There is at least a glimmer of hope with this young cast. But lets face it, you dont become the leagues lowest-scoring team without having a ton of issues.
While the Jags have put up fewer points than any team, only one team has allowed more points than Tennessee. They are dead last against the run. And they are indisputably in a funk, having only managed 18 points and one measly touchdown against the Giants and Jets in their last two. Its hard to feel all that great about the Jaguars, but if forced to pick the worst team in the league right now, Tennessee would have a pretty solid case. At home, I see the Jaguars clawing their way to a win and cover.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Jacksonville Jaguars minus 2.5 points.