Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) at Carolina Panthers (2-2)
These two teams are in very similar quarterback situations. Both have lost their starting quarterback indefinitely and have turned to a non-highly drafted backup that has thus far greatly exceeded expectations. The Jaguars are starting sixth round rookie Gardner Minshew, who has completed 69.4% of his passes for an average of 7.48 YPA, 7 touchdowns, and 1 interception since taking over for Nick Foles in the first half of the Jaguars’ first game of the season, while the Panthers have turned to 2018 undrafted free agent Kyle Allen, who has won all 3 career starts while completing 69.2% of his passes for an average of 8.34 YPA, 6 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Both quarterbacks are still pretty unproven and might not continue their high level of play, but it’s hard to say one quarterback is more likely to do so than another, so the quarterback position is essentially a wash between these two teams.
Where the Panthers have the edge is the rest of the team, as they rank 10th in first down rate differential at +2.66%, while the Jaguars rank 23rd at -1.95%. Despite that, this line suggests these two teams are about even with the Panthers only being favored by a field goal at home, so we’re getting significant line value with the Panthers. The Panthers nearly won their first 2 games despite Cam Newton playing at far less than 100% and could easily be a 4-0 team right now if they had gotten competent quarterback play all year.
I wish the Panthers had a more favorable injury report though, because they’ll be without a pair of starters on the offensive line (left tackle Greg Little and right guard Trai Turner), starting cornerback Donte Jackson, and possibly defensive lineman Gerald McCoy, who didn’t practice on Friday. Despite those injuries, I still have this line calculated at Carolina -6, so the Panthers are still worth a bet. If McCoy ends up playing and this line doesn’t change, I may increase this to a high confidence pick.
Sunday Update: McCoy is expected to play, while the Jaguars will be without both Jalen Ramsey and his replacement DJ Hayden. Despite that, this line is still at 3, so I am increasing this to a high confidence pick.
Carolina Panthers 20 Jacksonville Jaguars 13
Pick against the spread: Carolina -3