Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) at Baltimore Ravens (2-6)
The Jaguars rank 29th in rate of moving the chains differential at -5.84%. However, they’ve been a lot better since the first 3 weeks of the season. In their past 5 games, they have a differential of -2.92%. What happened? Well, they got a lot healthier. Early in the season, they were missing tight end Julius Thomas, left tackle Luke Joeckel, defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, cornerback Dwayne Gratz, and right guard Brandon Linder. Since then, all of those players, except Linder who is out for the season, have returned. This is a rare instance of a team that has gotten healthier as the season has gone on, as only Linder and possibly linebacker Dan Skuta, are out. That has shown itself on the field.
The Jaguars certainly aren’t a good team, but neither are the Ravens. They ranked 3rd in rate of moving the chains differential in 2014, but this year’s version of this team is a far cry from last year’s version. They lost wide receiver Torrey Smith, outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, and nose tackle Haloti Ngata this off-season. Breshad Perriman, Smith’s replacement, has yet to play this season, while fellow starting wide receiver Steve Smith and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs are out for the season with torn Achilles. They also lost offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak this off-season, which has really hurt their offensive line and running game. As a result, they rank 27th in rate of moving the chains differential at -4.13%. They shouldn’t be favored by 5.5 points here over the Jaguars.
The Ravens are also in a terrible spot. While the Jaguars host the Titans next week, a game in which the Jaguars are expected to be favored, the Ravens host the Rams, who are expected to be road favorites in Baltimore. Favorites are 96-166 ATS before being underdogs when their opponent will next be favorites since 2008. The Ravens are only 1.5 home underdogs in the early line, so it’s possible they end up being home favorites, but, either way, the logic holds. The Ravens have an upcoming distraction, while the Jaguars don’t.
It also helps that the Jaguars are in their 2nd straight road game. Teams are 122-87 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 100-59 ATS when it’s their 2nd of 2 road games. Historically, teams cover at about a 65% rate in that situation. This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 211-214 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.46 points per game, as opposed to 296-419 straight up in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 2.99 points per game. This could easily be a Baltimore field goal win or a Jacksonville win. The Jaguars, as 5.5 point underdogs, are my Pick of the Week.
Baltimore Ravens 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 23
Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +5.5
Confidence: Pick of the Week