Atlanta Falcons at Jacksonville Jaguars: 2021 Week 12 NFL Pick

Atlanta Falcons (4-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-8)

The Falcons are 4-6, but they are much worse than even their mediocre record suggests. While all four of their wins have come by one score against mediocre at best opponents, four of their six losses have been blowout defeats by 20 points or more. In fact, their point differential of -110 is the 4th worst in the league, even worse than the -103 point differential that the 2-8 Jaguars have. That holds up when you look at schedule adjusted efficiency rankings (which are based on more predictive metrics like yards and first downs per play), as the Falcons rank 28th, 21st, 31st, and 31st respectively in offensive, defensive, special teams, and mixed efficiency, while the Jaguars rank 23rd, 25th, 28th, and 28th respectively. The Jaguars are missing their top cornerback Shaq Griffin in this game, but their offense will get a boost from the return of their top lineman Brandon Linder.

Despite that, the Falcons are favored on the road in this matchup. It’s only by a couple points, but my rankings have these two teams about even and the Jaguars should be considered at worst 50/50 to win this game at home. My calculated line favors the Jaguars by a couple points at home and, while that isn’t great line value, as we are within the key number of three in both directions, the Falcons are also in a bad spot to boot, with a much tougher matchup against the Buccaneers on deck, which could easily serve as a distraction for the Falcons. The Jaguars, meanwhile, are in a good spot as home underdogs after a big loss as home underdogs, with teams covering at a 59.0% rate as home underdogs after losing by 14 or more as home underdogs. This isn’t a big bet on the Jaguars, but I like them enough to put a small wager on them against the spread and on the money line, with the money line at +110 likely being the better value of the two.

Jacksonville Jaguars 23 Atlanta Falcons 20 Upset Pick +110

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +2

Confidence: Medium

San Francisco 49ers at Jacksonville Jaguars: 2021 Week 11 NFL Pick

San Francisco 49ers (4-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7)

The 49ers are just 4-5, but they have a positive point differential at +4, despite dealing with a significant amount of short-term injury absences, many of whom have since returned, and despite a -7 turnover margin, 5th worst in the NFL. Turnover margin is highly non-predictive on a week-to-week basis though and the 49ers rank 9th, 7th, and 11th in offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency, when adjusted for schedule. Overall, that 49ers schedule has been one of the tougher schedules in the league and their only really easy games both came on the road in Chicago and Detroit, both of which resulted in wins by the 49ers of more than 7 points.

That is relevant because the 49ers are favored by just 6.5 points in this game in Jacksonville, against a Jaguars teams that is comparable to the teams the 49ers have already beaten with ease on the road. The Jaguars are one of the worst teams in the league and the 49ers are much better than their record, so this line isn’t high enough. My calculated line has the 49ers as 8.5-point favorites and at the very least the 49ers should be giving more than a touchdown in this game.

This could be a bit of a tough spot for the 49ers, after a huge divisional upset win over the Rams last week, as teams cover at just a 41.3% rate after a win as divisional home underdogs of more than a field goal. However, because that game came on Monday Night Football and was not even close, it might bode well for the 49ers this week, as teams cover at a 60.2% rate all-time after a Monday Night Football win by 21 points or more. This isn’t a big bet because there are conflicting trends, but we are getting some line value with the 49ers, who are still a bit underrated even after last week’s big win, so they are worth a play.

San Francisco 49ers 27 Jacksonville Jaguars 17

Pick against the spread: San Francisco -6.5

Confidence: Medium

Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts: 2021 Week 10 NFL Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) at Indianapolis Colts (4-5)

The Jaguars shockingly pulled the 9-6 upset as 15-point home underdogs against the Bills last week. Normally, that would put them in a bad spot this week, as teams cover at just a 40.9% rate all-time after a win as home underdogs of 5 or more. However, that is because teams tend to be overvalued and/or flat in that spot and I don’t know if either of those will be the case this week. 

I was expecting the Jaguars’ win last week to shift this line significantly, but the Jaguars are still 10-point underdogs, a week after being underdogs of 10.5 points on the early line last week, so they’re not overvalued. On top of that, it’s possible they could still bring a high level of intensity and focus even after last week’s win because they are once again big underdogs and, this time around, facing a divisional opponent.

The Colts are also in a bad spot, as big home favorites before a much tougher game next week in Buffalo. Favorites of a touchdown or more cover at just a 43.7% rate before facing an opponent whose winning percentage is at least 40% higher than their current opponent’s winning percentage and that applies to the Colts this week. With that in mind, I am actually taking the Jaguars this week, albeit for a low confidence pick. Even if both teams are in bad spots, I think we are getting a little bit of line value with the Jaguars, as I have them calculated as 8.5-point underdogs.

The Colts four wins have all come by double digits, their point differential (+32) suggests they’ve been better than their record, and they are healthier than they were early in the season, but they also have benefited from the 2nd best turnover margin in the league at +10, which is unlikely to continue, and they rank just 12th, 22nd, and 18th respectively in schedule adjusted offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency. The Jaguars rank 18th, 28th, and 25th, but have been a little better in recent weeks and are the better side for pick ’em purposes as underdogs of this many points.

Indianapolis Colts 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 16

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +10

Confidence: Low

Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars: 2021 Week 9 NFL Pick

Buffalo Bills (5-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6)

This is a matchup between one of the best teams in the league and one of the worst, with the Bills ranking 1st in point differential and 2nd in mixed team efficiency, while the Jaguars rank 28th in point differential and 30th in mixed team efficiency. However, this line is pretty high, expecting the Bills to win by more than two full touchdowns on the road. I don’t have a strong lean on this game, but the Jaguars should be the right side, as this line has shifted from favoring the Bills by 10.5 on the early line last week to 15 this week.

Despite that big line movement, the public, which is due to get crushed by the sportsbooks one week this year, is all over the Bills. My calculated line has the Bills favored by 11 points, which isn’t that much line value, but it’s worth noting. As bad as the Jaguars have been, they lost by 18 to the Titans and 12 to the Cardinals, who are comparable teams to the Bills, which gives the Jaguars some hope for covering an inflated spread like this, as 15-point underdogs. I wouldn’t bet on this, but the Jaguars look like the better side for pick ‘em purposes.

Buffalo Bills 30 Jacksonville Jaguars 17

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +15

Confidence: Low

Jacksonville Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks: 2021 Week 8 NFL Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) at Seattle Seahawks (2-5)

It’s hard to understate how much the Seahawks miss Russell Wilson. Both of their full games without him have been close, but those games were against a mediocre Steelers team and a Saints team that was probably caught looking forward to their bigger matchup with the Buccaneers the following week. Their offense has struggled mightily without him and, with top running back Chris Carson also out, the Seahawks aren’t really good at anything on either side of the ball right now. 

The Seahawks have an easy matchup with the Jaguars this week, but they are favored by 3.5 points at home, suggesting they are a significantly better team, which I don’t think is the case right now. About 1 in 4 games are decided by a field goal or less and the Seahawks shouldn’t be favored by more than a field goal against anyone other than the Texans or maybe the Jets. There isn’t enough here to take the Jaguars with confidence, but this line seems a little bit off as the most likely result of this game is either team winning by a field goal, both of which would cover this line.

Seattle Seahawks 23 Jacksonville Jaguars 20

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +3.5

Confidence: Low

Miami Dolphins vs Jacksonville Jaguars: 2021 Week 6 NFL Pick

Miami Dolphins (1-4) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5) in London

Typically, the rule of thumb in these international games is to take the favorite, who has covered at a 66.7% rate all-time, which makes sense, given that the better team is probably better equipped to deal with playing a game after an unusual week. However, the favorite in this matchup is the Dolphins, who, despite being favored by 3 points, might not necessarily be the better team. The Dolphins are off to a disappointing 1-4 start after going 10-6 last season, but I still don’t think the public and odds makers have realized how bad they are.

Their only win came by 1 point against a middling Patriots team and the Patriots, who won the first down rate and yards per play battle, likely would have won if they had not lost one of their two lost fumbles, in which case the Dolphins would be 0-5 right now. The Dolphins did take the Raiders to overtime a few weeks ago and could have won that game, but they needed a long defensive touchdown to keep it close and lost the first down rate battle by 6.50% and the yards per play battle by 1.91 to a mediocre Raiders team. In total, the Dolphins rank 30th in first down rate and 22nd in yards per play allowed and their -75 point differential is the worst in the league, even behind the 31st ranked Jaguars (-59).

The Dolphins are also starting from a lower base point than most realize, as they were not nearly as good as their record a year ago. They faced a very easy schedule and they benefited from an unsustainably high turnover margin (+11), opponent’s field goal percentage (3rd lowest at 73.91%) and 3rd/4th down conversion rate allowed (33.02%), actually lower than the 34.07% conversion rate they allowed on 1st/2nd down (4th highest in the NFL). The Dolphins get Tua Tagovailoa back from injury this week, but it’s unclear if he’s an upgrade on Jacoby Brissett, as both quarterbacks have played like backups this season. They’ll also be without top cornerback Xavien Howard and their two starting wide receivers Will Fuller and Devante Parker, due to injuries.

The Dolphins are still one point better than the Jaguars in my roster rankings, but that’s pretty insignificant, so we’re getting good value getting a field goal with the Jaguars, even if underdogs do tend not to cover in international games. The Jaguars are arguably the worst team in the league, so there isn’t nearly enough to bet them confidently here, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes, as the Dolphins are also one of the worst teams in the league and are still overvalued.

Miami Dolphins 20 Jacksonville Jaguars 19

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +3

Confidence: Low

Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars: 2021 Week 5 NFL Pick

Tennessee Titans (2-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4)

This line shifted from favoring the Titans by 7 points on the early line last week to 4.5 points this week, likely as a result of the Titans losing in a similar spot as big road favorites in New York against the Jets last week, losing in overtime as 6-point favorites. However, the Titans are healthier than a week ago, with top wide receiver AJ Brown and starting cornerback Caleb Farley both set to return, while the Jaguars are an even weaker opponent than the Jets.

The Lions and Texans are clearly the worst two teams in the league, but the Jaguars aren’t too far behind them, even losing to the Texans week one, albeit back when the Texans still had Tyrod Taylor healthy. Still, that game wasn’t that close, nor have any of the Jaguars’ games been, with the exception of last week’s close loss to the Bengals, against a team that was missing it’s top two defensive backs. Even with that result factored in, the Jaguars are still losing by an average of 10.3 points per game and have the 5th worst point differential in the league.

That near win in Cincinnati last week may also be part of the reason why this line shifted, but that wasn’t as impressive as it could have been if the Bengals were fully healthy on defense and last week’s result should probably be overshadowed by the situation that has developed with head coach Urban Meyer since last week’s game. Meyer, who already was unpopular with the players, could have completely lost the locker room, which could cause this winless team to quit if they get down big early. They’re also likely to be unprepared and unfocused after the week they had.

The Titans have the offensive firepower to put the Jaguars down big early and should be favored by a lot more than 4.5 points, but I am hesitant to bet on them because they’re not in a good spot either. After this easy matchup with the Jaguars, the Titans have a much tougher matchup with the Chiefs and may not be fully focused as a result. The Jaguars could be equally distracted and unfocused, but there isn’t quite enough here for the Titans to be worth betting. Their defense is still a problem and I would be worried about a backdoor cover if the Titans aren’t focused enough to pull away early.

Tennessee Titans 27 Jacksonville Jaguars 20

Pick against the spread: Tennessee -4.5

Confidence: Low

Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals: 2021 Week 4 NFL Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)

I would have liked the Bengals a lot more in this matchup a week ago. The Bengals were favored by 6.5 points on the early line and were in a good spot, as non-divisional home favorites of 6 points or more are 19-7-2 ATS all-time on a short week. This week, the Bengals are favored by 7.5 points, which doesn’t seem like a huge swing, but about 1 in 10 games are decided by a touchdown exactly and that line movement comes despite the Bengals losing safety Jessie Bates and cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, two key parts of their defense, to injury last week, adding to an injury list that also includes wide receiver Tee Higgins. The Bengals beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh somewhat easily last week, but the Steelers are an overrated and injury plagued team, so the injury absences are more important than the result of last week’s game when it comes to projecting this matchup. 

We are getting some line value with the Bengals though, as they are still a decent team, even with their injury absences. I’ve thought the Bengals were underrated for a few weeks and they could be 3-0 if Joe Burrow didn’t uncharacteristically throw interceptions in the fourth quarter of a close loss to the Bengals. My calculated line is Cincinnati -12, so, even though we’re not getting great line value, the Bengals are still worth a small bet because of how good of a spot they are in. It’s very tough for an inferior team to cover against a superior team on the road out of the division on a short week.

Cincinnati Bengals 27 Jacksonville Jaguars 14

Pick against the spread: Cincinnati -7.5

Confidence: Medium

Arizona Cardinals at Jacksonville Jaguars: 2021 Week 3 NFL Pick

Arizona Cardinals (2-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)

Coming into the season, the Cardinals were one of my top underrated teams, as they looked like one of the most well-rounded teams in the league on paper, thanks to some key off-season additions and Kyler Murray being in his third year in the league. They have gotten off to a great start, but they might not be underrated anymore as a result. Even though the Cardinals played a very close game at home against the Vikings last week, this line still jumped from Arizona -6.5 on the early line last week to -7.5 this week, crossing a key number of seven (about 1 in 10 games are decided by exactly a touchdown).

My calculated line is still Arizona -9.5, but we’re not getting any sort of significant line value, especially since the Cardinals could be in a trap game spot against an 0-2 Jaguars team with a huge game against the Rams on deck. With that in mind, I considered the Jaguars, but I am sticking with the Cardinals for one of my lowest confidence picks of the week at least for now. With the Cardinals having three key players, DeAndre Hopkins, Devon Kennard, and Byron Murphy, seemingly legitimately questionable, it’s possible this pick will change depending on injury reports, but I don’t see myself being confident in either side either way.

Update: The Cardinals got good injury news, so I like them a little more now, even in a bad spot. This line has moved up to 8, but that doesn’t really matter. I have the healthier Cardinals as 10 point favorites.

Arizona Cardinals 34 Jacksonville Jaguars 24

Pick against the spread: Arizona -8

Confidence: Low

Denver Broncos at Jacksonville Jaguars: 2021 Week 2 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (1-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)

This line moved significantly from favoring the Broncos by 3 on the early line last week to now by 6 this week, as a result of the Jaguars losing convincingly in Houston and the Broncos winning convincingly in New York against the Giants. I wasn’t that surprised by either result, as I thought the Broncos could be playoff contenders if they could get capable quarterback play from Teddy Bridgewater, which they seem likely to get, while the Jaguars didn’t do enough to upgrade their supporting cast around rookie Trevor Lawrence. 

However, now with this line shooting up to 6, we’ve lost all line value with the Broncos and are now actually getting line value with the hosts, who I have calculated as 4-point underdogs. This seems like a runaway line that the odds makers can boost higher than it should be because they know the public will still bet on the road favorite, which they have, as the Broncos are one of the most bet sides in the league this week. I am not confident in the Jaguars, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes, as a close game wouldn’t surprise me.

Denver Broncos 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 20

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +6

Confidence: Low