The Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons both rallied back from large deficits on Sunday and hope to build on their big wins when they square off at the Georgia Dome on Thursday Night Football. The Falcons (8-5) can take another step toward returning to the playoffs with their fourth win in five weeks while the Jaguars (4-9) will try to win consecutive games for the first time this season.
Game time is scheduled for 8:20 p.m. (ET) with television coverage provided by NFL Network. Atlanta opened as a 10½-point favorite according to the Don Best odds screen and has already been bet up to -11½ at some sportsbooks with the total sitting at 42½.
The Falcons are the defending NFC South champions but remained two games behind the New Orleans Saints (10-3) for the division lead since each team won last week. Atlanta outscored the Carolina Panthers 24-0 in the second half of a 31-23 road victory behind 320 passing yards and four touchdowns from quarterback Matt Ryan. Two of the touchdowns went to rookie wide receiver Julio Jones, who finished with three catches for 104 yards.
Jacksonville had a similar comeback but did most of its damage in the second quarter of a 41-14 home win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Jaguars trailed 14-0 early in the second before scoring 28 unanswered points to take a 28-14 halftime lead. Their defense played outstanding the rest of the way as well, failing to allow a point after the intermission.
Running back Maurice Jones-Drew continued his drive for the NFL rushing title and now leads the league with 1,222 yards on the ground for Jacksonville. Jones-Drew had 85 yards on 27 carries against the Bucs and scored four touchdowns, two rushing and two receiving.
The Falcons had given up 95.2 rushing yards per game heading into the game against the Panthers but surrendered 157 to them on 23 carries. Still, Atlanta did pick off rookie QB Cam Newton twice and will face another rookie here in Blaine Gabbert of the Jaguars.
Gabbert threw two interceptions in the win over Tampa Bay, but he also threw two touchdown passes and had 217 passing yards, the second-highest total of his young career. He will need to help balance out the offense again to give his team a chance against the Falcons.
Jacksonville has seen the ‘over’ cash twice since defensive coordinator Mel Tucker took over as interim head coach for Jack Del Rio. Atlanta had seen the total go ‘under’ in its previous eight games before Sunday, and the team is 1-3-1 against the spread in its past five.
The Jaguars have won three of the four head-to-head meetings since Jacksonville joined the NFL in 1995, but Atlanta has covered the spread in three of the games. The most recent matchup was just over four years ago in Jacksonville, a 13-7 Jags victory as 10-point favorites.
All four of the games stayed below the NFL betting total.