Detroit Lions (3-4) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6)
Nate Burleson getting hurt might have been the best thing that could possibly happen to the Lions’ offense. It forced the Lions to replace the mediocre Burleson, who was averaging 8.9 yards per catch and (5.6 yards per target), with explosive 2011 2nd round pick Titus Young and it’s also given 2nd round rookie Ryan Broyles more playing time too. It’s no coincidence that their offense looked by far the best it has all season, and against a tough Seattle defense nonetheless, in their first game without Burleson last week, even with Calvin Johnson playing at less than 100%.
They already rank 8th in yards per play differential and 16th in rate of sustaining drives differential. Those two stats don’t take into account special teams yardage, which is one of their flaws. Detroit had horrific special teams earlier this season, but as you could expect, that eventually settled down. If they can get Matt Stafford going like they did last week, they’re not going to be fun to play.
Jacksonville, meanwhile, is absolutely horrible. I know the Chiefs have yet to lead in regulation, but in every statistic other than turnovers, the Jaguars are worse and turnover differential tends to be very inconsistent. If the Chiefs and Jaguars were to play on a neutral field, I’d probably pick the Chiefs. In rate of sustaining drives differential, they rank dead last at -15.0%. No one else is worse than -10.3%. In yards per play differential, they rank dead last at -1.2. No one else is worse than -0.9.
If we use rate of sustaining drives differential and yards per play differential to calculate real line, we get a real line of -7 in favor of Detroit in each instance, so we are getting some line value and that’s not taking into account that Detroit has the momentum right now and that Jacksonville is without Maurice Jones-Drew once again. Replacement Rashad Jennings has just 149 yards on 51 carries in the absence of someone who had been over 40% of their offense in the last 2 years.
It’s not a big play on Detroit though because Detroit is a heavy public lean and Detroit’s upcoming schedule is brutal (@ Minnesota, vs. Green Bay, vs. Houston). Road favorites before being dogs in 3 or more straight are 20-39 ATS since 1989. They might not be completely focused for this one, but I can’t bet Jacksonville, especially against a now underrated Lions team.
Public lean: Detroit (new thing I’m adding, siding with the odds makers on bets is not a bad thing to do since they make so much money, so I’m listing this here to allow readers to “fade” the public, if they so choose, in this example, the odds makers win if Jacksonville covers)
Sharps lean: DET 7 JAX 4
Final update: No change.
Detroit Lions 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 16
Pick against spread: Detroit -5 (-110) 1 unit