Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2; 1-2 ATS; 2-1 O/U) vs. Atlanta Falcons (0-3; 0-3 ATS; 1-2 O/U)
NFL Preseason: Thursday, August 31, 2017 at 7:00pm EST
Line: Atlanta -3.5
The Atlanta Falcons will host the Jacksonville Jaguars in the final preseason tuneup Thursday night from the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Jaguars were narrowly defeated 24-23 by the Panthers last week, and the Falcons dropped a 24-14 decision to the Cardinals last Saturday. Atlanta defeated Jacksonville 17-15 in last year’s final preseason game.
Bortles Solid in Loss, Named Week One Starter
The Jacksonville Jaguars scored 13 points in the fourth quarter but it was not enough in a 24-23 home loss to the Panthers last week. Chad Henne got the start in the defeat and completed 8 of 14 passes for 73 yards with no TD’s or interceptions. Blake Bortles was solid, connecting on 12 of his 16 passes for 125 yards with one touchdown and one pick. The two quarterbacks were involved in fierce battle for the starting quarterback role through the first three preseason games, however, head coach Doug Marrone has named Bortles the week one starter. Allen Robinson led all receivers with two catches for 50 yards last week. The 24-year old wide receiver took a bit of a step back last season, bringing in 883 receiving yards after accumulating 1400 yards in 2015. The Jaguars are dealing with a few key injuries as Marquise Lee sat out last week and he will likely sit this one out as well. Rookie running back Leonard Fournette also did not suit up last week, however, the promising young running back should be ready for week one. The Jaguars defense did not make any sacks last week and allowed the Panthers to go 3 for 4 in the red zone.
The Jaguars scored an average of only 19.9 points per game last season, ranking them down at 25th in the NFL. The Jacksonville defense conceded 25 points per game, positioning them 25th overall.
Matt Ryan Shaky in Loss to Cardinals
The Atlanta Falcons could not get into a rhythm offensively in their 24-14 home loss to the Cardinals last week. Matt Ryan was not sharp, converting on only 4 of his 11 passes for 36 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. Ryan has tossed one TD with one pick through three preseason games. Matt Schaub was sharp in his limited action, completing 5 of his 6 passes for 25 yards. Schaub will likely see a good amount of action in this contest. Julio Jones made his first appearance of the preseason last week after nursing a foot injury but did not make a catch. The 28-year old star receiver had an outstanding 2016 campaign, accumulating 1409 receiving yards with six touchdowns. The Falcons could get nothing going on the ground in the week three loss, rushing for a team total of 71 yards off 25 carries. Devonta Freeman sat out again as he is dealing with a concussion, however, he will be ready for week one. Deion Jones was active last week, making five tackles and one tackle for a loss. The second-year linebacker is poised for a big season after making 108 tackles along with 11 pass deflections and three interceptions last season.
Last season the Falcons powerhouse offense averaged an NFL leading 33.8 points per game. The Atlanta defense conceded 25.4 points per game in 2016, placing them down at 27th overall.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are:
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games.
The Atlanta Falcons are:
- No Key Trends
I am siding with the Jaguars in this contest. Matt Ryan likely won’t play at all and overall this game will be the battle of the backups. Although Bortles was named the week one starter, Chad Henne will want to make a good final impression for the coaches, and overall he has had a decent preseason, throwing one touchdown with no interceptions. Furthermore, Jaguars third string quarterback Brandon Allen is having an outstanding preseason, throwing for 251 yards with two TD’s and no picks. Jacksonville is actually a strong defensive team and I feel they have more defensive depth than the Falcons.
Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars +3.5
The Falcons offense has not looked very inspiring through three preseason games, and the Jaguars are not very deep offensively. Last season these two clubs played to a low scoring 17-15 decision in the final preseason game, and this matchup could produce a similar result with sloppy offensive play. The under is 5-1 in the last six meetings between these two clubs.