Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4) in London
These two teams almost met in the Super Bowl last year, but this year they’ve gotten off to disappointing 3-4 starts. The Jaguars have much more reason for concern though. While the Eagles’ 4 losses have come by a combined 15 points, the Jaguars are -30 in point differential and rank 15th in first down rate differential at +0.86%. The Jaguars defense has still played well overall, ranking 2nd in first down rate allowed at 30.73%, but their offense has been horrendous, ranking 27th in first down rate at 31.59%.
Blake Bortles’ regression to a subpar starting quarterback gets a lot of the blame, but the Jaguars have also had a lot of injuries around him. After losing likely #1 receiver Marqise Lee before the season even started, the Jaguars have lost running back Leonard Fournette, their top-3 tight ends, and their top-2 left tackles. They’ve run the ball somewhat effectively even without Fournette, but their offensive line has not played well and their receivers have consistently failed to get seperation.
They tried benching Bortles for backup Cody Kessler in their loss to the Texans last week, but that didn’t work, in large part because Kessler is a backup caliber quarterback who would not be an upgrade even on Bortles. Instead, the Jaguars will turn back to Bortles this week, as he at least gives them some upside under center, but he will be on a very short leash. An uncertain quarterback situation is never good for any offense, especially one with as little talent around the quarterback as the Jaguars. They’ll also be without top cornerback AJ Bouye with injury this week, as the injury bug has spread to their defense.
The Eagles, meanwhile, still resemble their Super Bowl team, ranking 6th in first down rate differential at +4.13%. They’ve just struggled in close games, most recently blowing a 17-0 4th quarter lead at home to the Panthers. They have some injuries, with defensive end Derek Barnett, safety Rodney McLeod, and running back Jay Ajayi all on injured reserve and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan yet to return from off-season back surgery, but they had injuries last year as well and are still a top-5 team on paper. They shouldn’t have too much trouble with the Jaguars in London, where the better team typically covers (favorites are 22-10 ATS all-time in neutral site games). I wish this line was still 3 where it briefly opened, but the shift is justifiable for Bouye’s mid-week injury and I have this line at -6 anyway, so the Eagles are worth a bet.
Philadelphia Eagles 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 17
Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -3.5