Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-1)
One of the most powerful trends in betting is known as the six and six trend, meaning teams who finish with 6 wins or fewer are 25-69 ATS as favorites of 6 or more since 2002. There are two issues with this trend. One, it’s very rare (it only happened 7 times all last season, going 2-5 ATS). Two, it’s even rarer that a situation will come up in which you can confidently use the trend. The Eagles were 8.5 point favorites in Cleveland last year week1 (they didn’t cover), but there was at the time there was no way to know that the Eagles would finish 6-10 or worse.
This is a situation where I think we can safely say that a team is going to go 6-10 or worse with the Raiders favored by 6 points here at home against the Raiders. Sure, the Raiders kept it close with the Colts last week, hanging within 4 points on the road of a team that went 11-5 last year. However, that’s a little misleading. The Colts won 7 games by 7 points or fewer against 7 win or worse teams last season. They’re not as good as their record suggests. That included the 2-14 2012 Chiefs and they also lost to the 2-14 2012 Jaguars. The Raiders’ near win in Indianapolis is not a sign that they won’t be as bad as everyone thought they would be at the beginning of the season.
The Jaguars aren’t good either. In fact, these are probably the two worst teams in football and by a wide margin, but the Raiders don’t deserve to be favored by 6+ against anyone. If you played this game under perfectly normal circumstances 100 times, the Raiders would probably win on average by about 3 points and this line should be -3 (which would suggest that these teams are equal and that Oakland is at home). However, these aren’t perfectly normal circumstances. The Raiders are also in a bad spot as favorites of 3 or more are 19-40 ATS since 1989 after being dogs of 7+ and before being dogs of 7+. Not only do the Raiders not deserve to be big favorites here, they also could view this as a breather week, especially after last week and especially with a trip to Denver on the horizon next week.
The Jaguars also are upgrading their quarterback situation this week, though not by their decision as Blaine Gabbert is out with injury. Gabbert was miserable last week in a 28-2 home loss, completing just 16 of 35 for 121 yards and 2 interceptions without a score, but even worse is that just 22 of his yards came through the air. The rest were after the catch. Chad Henne isn’t great either, but he was a noticeable upgrade last season, completing 53.9% of his passes for an average of 6.8 YPA, 11 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions, while Gabbert completed 58.3% of his passes for an average of 6.0 YPA, 9 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions.
Henne is at least capable of getting the ball to #1 receiver Cecil Shorts, who managed just 4 catches for 30 yards last week because of Blaine Gabbert under center and Brandon Flowers draped all over him. He doesn’t have either of these things this week as the Raiders’ secondary is one of the worst in the NFL and Henne is under center. In 6 starts in which Cecil Shorts and Chad Henne started together last season, Shorts caught 35 passes for 532 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Finally, the Jaguars are in a good spot coming off such a poor performance last week. Teams are 39-25 ATS since 1989 after games in which they either didn’t score or only scored on a safety like the Jaguars did last week. Teams tend to be undervalued and overlooked in this situation. The Jaguars are certainly undervalued as 6 point underdogs against a horrible Oakland team. I’m pretty confident in the Jaguars covering this week.
Oakland Raiders 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 23
Pick against spread: Jacksonville +6