The Jacksonville Jaguars (3-14, 5-12 ATS, 5-12 O/U) take on the Washington Commanders (7-10, 7-9-1 ATS, 7-10 O/U) in the season opener on Sunday afternoon. The Jaguars went 3-14 last year, finishing last in the entire NFL. The Commanders posted a competitive 7-10 record. These foes last played in 2018 in a game Washington took by a 16-13 score.
Jaguars Expecting More from Trevor Lawrence
The Jacksonville Jaguars had a busy offseason and will most definitely be an improved team after winning only three games and earning the #1 overall pick again. They lost eight in a row late in the season before winning the regular season finale against the Colts. The coaching is going to be much better under former Eagles HC Doug Pederson who has a talented, young roster.
The top pick in the 2021 draft, Trevor Lawrence displayed glimpses of what he can do but it was not an inspiring season. The former Clemson QB finished with 3,641 passing yards and a poor 12:17 TD to INT ratio. He connected on 59.6% of his pass attempts.
The Jaguars have Travis Etienne and James Robinson at running back. Etienne missed last season due to injury but was a 1st round pick in 2021. Robinson had a strong 2021 year, leading the team with 767 rushing yards on 4.7 yards per carry. The management added plenty of viable receiving options for Trevor Lawrence. They signed Christian Kirk to a big contract. The 25-year-old amassed 982 receiving yards with the Cardinals last season. They also have veteran Marvin Jones and a good tight end in Evan Engram.
The Jacksonville defense also needed plenty of work in the offseason. The unit stood a decent 17th against the pass however the rush defense was pegged 23rd. They used the 1st overall pick on DE Travon Walker who should improve the pass rush. They also added CB Darius Williams who will improve the pass defense.
The Jaguars averaged an NFL-low 14.9 points last year. The defense conceded an average of 26.9 points, placing them 29th in the NFL.
Commanders Add Carson Wentz
The Washington Commanders had an interesting offseason. They attempted to acquire star QB Russell Wilson but ended up signing Carson Wentz instead. The team has a good core in place and will be competitive after winning seven games last season. Washington did win four games in a row at one point during the season but lost four of their last five games. The question is do they have enough to increase the win total based on the offseason additions?
Well, Carson Wentz arrives from Indianapolis. He took criticism for his play, but the numbers were decent, accumulating 3563 passing yards and a 27:7 TD to INT ratio. He was inconsistent and apparently had a lack of leadership off the field. The Commanders have a solid running game led by Antonio Gibson who eclipsed 1000 yards in 2021. The 24-year-old running back averaged 4 yards per carry.
The receiving corps is highlighted by Terry McLaurin. The 26-year-old WR has surpassed 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons and will likely be targeted heavily by his new QB. They also have rookie WR Johan Dotson who was drafted sixth overall in the draft.
The Commanders’ defense was an issue last season. They often had trouble containing foes in the air with a pass defense that ranked 29th overall. The rush defense was strong, landing ninth in the league. The defense has one of the better CBs in the league in Kendall Fuller who had an 81 rating on PFF.
Washington scored an average of 19.7 points last year, ranking them 24th overall. The defense allowed an average of 25.5 points, pegging them 25th in the NFL.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Jaguars made several key offense acquisitions and signings and will be much better. First, they gave Trevor Lawrence better receivers in Christian Kirk and Zay Jones. Lawrence will have a breakout season and should have a productive game against a pass defense that ranked 29th in the NFL last season.
Furthermore, the Commanders have Carson Wentz at QB. He is not a star and the Jaguars actually have a decent pass defense, plus the pass rush is improved after using the first pick on a defensive end in Trevon Walker. The Commanders will rely on the running game with Antonio Gibson, however, the Jaguars should have an improved rush defense. Overall, I just don’t see the Commanders' offense being much better than last year.
Full-Game Total Pick
I expect scoring to be at a premium in this game. These are two low-scoring teams. Jacksonville was last in points last year. While the offense will be improved, it will be a few games before they find a groove considering they have a new coach in Doug Pederson and two new WRs.
In addition, the Commanders only averaged 19.7 points last season. Wentz hasn’t been a huge threat for a few years now and they will rely heavily on Gibson on the ground. Look for plenty of running plays which will take a lot of time off the clock. The under is also 7-3 in the Commanders' last 10 games as a home favorite.