Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13) at New England Patriots (9-6)
The Patriots have lost back-to-back games and are favored by a lot of points in this game (16.5-point favorites), but the Patriots’ schedule over the past two games has been tough, as they have faced the teams who rank 1st and 6th in point differential, and they won the first down rate (+1.00%) and yards per play (+0.33) battle in a loss to the Colts, a loss that was largely the result of a blocked punt returned for a touchdown and a -1 turnover margin, which are not as predictive as first down rate and yards per play.
Now the Patriots get a much easier matchup, as not only are the Jaguars arguably the worst team in the league, but they are without one of their best players, running back James Robinson, and could be missing essentially their whole offensive line, with left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Andrew Norwell, center Brandon Linder, and right guard Ben Bartch (already a fill-in for the injured AJ Cann) all in COVID protocols right now.
The Patriots still rank 4th in point differential despite back-to-back multiscore losses and they rank 12th, 4th, 19th, and 6th in schedule adjusted offensive, defensive, special teams, and mixed efficiency, so this line arguably isn’t high enough, even if the Patriots might be without Matt Judon and Deatrich Wise. I have this line calculated at New England -17 even if all of the Jaguars’ offensive linemen play and Judon and Wise are out and at New England -20.5 if the Jaguars’ players are all out and Judon and Wise play, so we’re getting at least some line value either way. I am making this a low confidence pick for now, but depending on who plays and where the line ends up, I may place a bet on New England.
Update: Only Andrew Norwell is playing of the Jaguars’ offensive line, while the others will be joined in the COVID protocols by edge defender Dawuane Smoot and cornerback Shaq Griffin, who tested positive today and would otherwise be starters. Meanwhile, the Patriots will have both Matt Judon and Deatrich Wise. This line hasn’t gone any higher, staying at 16.5, so I like the Patriots enough to bet them in what should be a complete blowout.
New England Patriots 31 Jacksonville Jaguars 10
Pick against the spread: New England -16.5