Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4) at St. Louis Rams (1-3)
The Jaguars are +12 here in St. Louis. No one is THAT bad right? Well, so far, the Jaguars have been THAT bad. They have been beyond horrendous offensively, converting just 58% of 1st and 10s for a subsequent set of first downs. That means on 42% of their 1st and 10s, they didn’t move the chains. Defensively, they aren’t good either, but they aren’t horrendous, surrendering a subsequent set of first downs 78% of the time.
However, I don’t expect the Jaguars to be THAT bad all season. They’re having a horrendous stretch right now, but I don’t think they’ll be all-time bad for the entirety of the season. Some of it will be randomness and the fact that no one is this bad forever. Some of it will be the return of Justin Blackmon, who returns this week from a 4 game suspension and could have a Josh Gordon-esque impact on this offense. They won’t be a good offense by any stretch of the imagination, but that 58% number won’t be THAT terrible all season.
Given that, I don’t think they really deserve to be 12 point underdogs here. The Rams aren’t very good at all either. They are moving the chains on 69% of opportunities, as opposed to 76% for their opponents. In terms of differential, they are 29th in the NFL. Their retooled offensive line isn’t playing up to expectations. Rodger Saffold is out, while veteran Scott Wells has been awful at center. Chris Williams continues to prove he’s not a starting caliber player, while even Jake Long has not been the franchise left tackle they thought they were getting.
Rookie Tavon Austin, who was supposed to invigorate Bradford’s receiving corps, has looked like, well a rookie, while Jared Cook has been pretty hit or miss. Defensively, Chris Long and James Laurinaitis, who have been signed to long extensions recently, aren’t living up to their salaries. The same is true of Cortland Finnegan, who was signed to a 50 million dollar deal last off-season. He’s suddenly morphed into the worst cornerback in the NFL, allowing 16 of 19 for 248 yards and 3 touchdowns before getting “hurt” against the 49ers.
They don’t deserve to be 12 point favorites over anyone. 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.
The Rams could easily go 6-10 or worse after a 1-3 start, given how they’ve been playing. I’m a little wary of using this to pick the Jaguars since I did it against the Raiders and it backfired, but this line is double what that line was. There’s a lot of room to work with and I don’t think the Jaguars will be quite as bad this week as they’ve been thus far this season, as I mentioned earlier. Teams always cover at least 3 or 4 times per season, no matter how bad they are. This could easily be one of those times for the Jaguars.
Other trends favor the Jaguars as well. Since 2002, teams are 36-18 ATS off of back-to-back losses by 21 or more. Teams tend to be overlooked, undervalued, and embarrassed in this situation. Both teams are actually in that situation this week, but I don’t think the Rams are being undervalued and I highly doubt they’ll be overlooked given how bad the Jaguars are. Going off of that, teams are just 2-11 ATS since 1989 as 10+ point favorites off of 3+ straight losses. It’s a limited sample size, but the fact that this situation happens so rarely is important in of itself. This is an overly inflated spread. I don’t want to put too much confidence in Jacksonville, but they should be the right side.
St. Louis Rams 20 Jacksonville Jaguars 13
Pick against spread: Jacksonville +12