It is going to be a rather quiet Sunday for the AFC South. With the Tennessee Titans on a bye and the Houston Texans winning Thursday night we are down to just two teams. Even then by the time the normal slate of games kicks off at 1pm eastern time in the United States we will be down to just one team left. With the Jacksonville Jaguars facing off against the Philadelphia Eagles in the early kick off at Wembley only the Colts will play on Sunday afternoon.
Entering this weeks slate of game we are assured to have the Texans top of the pile after moving two wins clear with their victory over the Miami Dolphins. However, the Colts and Jaguars need to win to keep pace. Lose and the Colts will be 2-6, three games back. Win and they are just two games behind and in with a decent shot at 3-5. The Jaguars are trying to stop themselves from sliding two full games back. A win here will keep the pressure on the Texans, who have a tough game in Denver next week.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Philadelphia Eagles (London)
So this is a game between last years Super Bowl champions and the AFC runner up. So it makes sense that both teams enter with losing records right? Both stories this season have been a case of two bad offenses. For the Eagles they were always going to have a weird season with Carson Wentz returning at some point. However, they managed to make a complete mess of it. Nick Foles struggled to start the year so they seemed to rush Wentz back. Rushing someone back from an ACL is generally not a good idea.
Wentz has been fine but the offense has lacked something. His completion rate is up 10% from last season and he has thrown just one interception. His yards per attempt are actually up from last year. However, his yards per completion is down 1.5. The reason for that is that the team does not have a speed based deep threat. Teams are able to sit on the short throws and make the tackles quickly. They just are not making the big plays. Their run game is not helping. Hit with injuries they rank 21st in the league in rushing yards. That makes it hard for Wentz as he has to do everything.
The Jaguars need to make sure that does not change this week. The Jaguars defense rank 25th in terms of rush yards surrendered and 29th in rushing attempts against. That needs to stiffen this week or the Eagles will be able to get rolling and kill them slowly. The Jaguars defense needs to step up and force turnovers because this offense is in crisis.
Jaguars Offensive Crisis
The Jaguars took the big step of benching Blake Bortles last week and hsung Cody Kessler. However, we are right back to Bortles this week and I think it is the right decision. The Jaguars have averaged 36 per game in London over the last three years and Bortles is 3-0. He has not done much in many of the games in terms of yards. However, he has eight passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown compared to just one interception in those three games.
A big part of this game is going to be the performance of newly acquired Carlos Hyde. The Jaguars need him to step up but it will not be easy. The Eagles defense ranks 2nd in terms of rush yards surrendered and they will make the Jaguars fight for every yard. The good news for the Jaguars is that this defense ranks 27th in turnovers forced and turnovers have been the blight of the season for the Jaguars as much as anything else.
The Eagles are three points favorites and common sense says you should jump on it. The Eagles feel on the rise while the Jaguars feel like they are in rapid decline. However, the London angle confuses the logic a little. The Jaguars know how to do this trip. They have done it a lot and that levels this game somewhat. The Eagles have a solid coaching staff but I am not willing to gamble on them figuring this out more so than a team that does it every year. The over/under is set around 42.5 and I am going for the under. Both of these offenses are struggling and both defenses are good. The only way I see the over hitting here is with a couple of defensive scores or short fields from bad turnovers.
Indianapolis Colts @ Oakland Raiders
The Raiders are really bad and now they are fire selling. An offense which was already bad just traded away their best wide receiver. They also placed their top running back on injured reserve, oh and their quarterback look scared. Carr is getting the ball out so fast because he does not want to get hit. It has made this offense stagnant and I do not see that changing in this one.
Offensively the Colts are starting to figure it out. T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron have been great for Andrew Luck, and this week he could get Jack Doyle back. Luck is quietly lighting it up and had a couple of silly losses gone their way then they could be 4-3 and right in the midst of things. Another big key will be getting Marlon Mack going again this week.
The Colts are three point favorites and despite being on the road I am backing them all the way. The Raiders are really bad and I have absolutely no faith int hem on either side of the ball. The over/under is 50.5 and I am absolutely going for the under. I cannot see the Raiders getting to 20 points and I cannot see the Colts going over 30 because the Raiders wont make all the mistakes the Bills did.
Jacksonville Jaguars +3 vs. Philadelphia Eagles – Under 42.5
Indianapolis Colts -3 @ Oakland Raiders – Colts and under 50.5
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