Tennessee Titans (2-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6)
Things seem to be looking up for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who won their 3rd game of the season last week, on a last second field goal in Baltimore. Though just 3-6, Jacksonville is only a game out of first place in the AFC South, behind an Indianapolis team that just lost its starting quarterback for a month. The Jaguars also are favored and have a better record than their opponent this week, at home against the 2-7 Titans. This is just their 4th game since the start of the 2012 season in which they’ve been favored (1-2 ATS) and their 2nd game over that time period in which they’ve had a better record than their opponent. Not only are they field goal favorites, after a 2 point line movement between this week and last week, significant considering close to 1 in 6 games is decided by a field goal, the Jaguars also have the backing of the public, at least to some extent. This is unprecedented for this team in recent memory.
The Jaguars have definitely been better over the past few weeks than they have been in recent years. In their past 6 games, they have a rate of moving the chains differential of-2.88%, which would rank 24th in the NFL on the season, significantly better than their overall rank on the season of 29th (-5.48%). 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. They got all of those players back, except Linder who is out for the season. This is a rare instance of a team that has gotten healthier as the season has gone on, though they lost Marks for the season last week, which hurts.
The Titans have had some pretty key injuries this season, including, most importantly, a two game absence by talented rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota, in which they scored a combined 13 points. In their other 7 games, they move the chains at a 72.32% rate. It hurts that top receiver Kendall Wright is out, but they should have success moving the chains against a weak Jacksonville defense. The Titans are also missing starting cornerbacks Perrish Cox and Jason McCourty. The defense has struggled without them this season, allowing opponents to move the chains at a 73.36% rate on the season, and very rarely have both been off the field at the same time. Still, they’re the better team and I like getting field goal protection. There’s not enough here for me to be too confident though.
Tennessee Titans 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 23 Upset Pick +125
Pick against the spread: Tennessee +3