Okay, Gardner Minshew and his mustache are back. And the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8 SU, 5-7 ATS) are wondering about that $88 million they spent on a Super Bowl hero.
They will certainly have a lot of time to ponder that in the off-season. And maybe they’ll be thinking very intently about the futures of people like coach Doug Marrone and executive Tom Coughlin.
For the time being, there is this game against the Los Angeles Chargers (4-8 SU, 3-9 ATS), scheduled for 4:05 PM ET at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. Remember that while BetAnySports are watching this game on Fox (on a regional basis, of course), they can place wagers in real-time using the facilities available through Sports Betting Ultra.
Nick Foles was the huge free agent pickup who the Jags felt was going to take them to a new level in place of the shaky Blake Bortles. Well, almost as soon as he got on the field he got injured. That left them with sixth-round draft pick Gardner Minshew, who had won the backup job with a great training camp.
Minshew was able to make a lot of plays with his feet (243 yards), but he needed to take care of the ball better when carrying it (seven fumbles lost). Still, he was intercepted only five times in 334 attempts, and that is unusual for a rookie. Perhaps most importantly, he injected a lot of energy into the situation.
Foles came back with three starts, and obviously the Jags felt as if they needed to put him because of all the money they spent. Those three games were double-digit losses, and Foles, though healthy, has been replaced.
So let’s see how positively the Jaguars respond to Minshew, at what is a very low point of the season.
In the NFL betting odds posted on this game, the Chargers are the road favorites:
Los Angeles Chargers -3 (-115)
Jacksonville Jaguars +3 (+105)
Over 42.5 points (-105)
Under 42.5 points (-105)
Keep in mind that if you want to get a special break on the “vig,” you have to look for “reduced juice,” which is available at BetAnySports!
First of all, the Chargers have the look of a team that is more competitive. None of their eight losses have been by more than seven points. And when you’ve lost eight times, that’s actually kind of remarkable. Meanwhile, Jacksonville’s last four losses have come by 23, 20, 22 and 17 points. The Chargers have actually outscored and outgained their opponents. J-Ville has been outscored by 72 points.
Does this apply to Sunday’s matchup? Maybe. It shows that the Chargers are IN every game, while the Jags are on a discernible slide. What can Jacksonville do to reverse things?
Well, Minshew’s presence is a good start. In two full starts, Foles threw the ball 95 times, and that made the Jaguars a very one-dimensional offense. That is very different than was the case earlier in the schedule.
Jacksonville has been a very poor team when defending the run. They are, in fact, 31st in the league in DVOA (an efficiency metric) against the run. And they would be completely vulnerable here, except for the fact that even though head coach Anthony Lynn has given a lot of lip service to running the ball, the Bolts have in fact been very pass-heavy, to the tune of 63% on an overall basis. And they don’t seem to be able to get out of that pattern. Philip Rivers has been a little wild of late, with eight interceptions and ten sacks over the last three games.
The Jags have only run the ball 26.6% of the time in the last three games, but we know that the philosophy of this coaching staff is to run first. And with Minshew behind center, they might get to that – letting Leonard Fournette (989 yards, 4.5 ypc) anchor the attack.
And besides that, when they mix it up, it is Minshew and not Foles who has developed the chemistry that has made the likes of DJ Chark and Chris Conley to be effective receivers. This team should look a little different here.
And now that the Chargers are completely out of the playoff race, you have to wonder how much intensity you’re going to see, especially as the future of Rivers (who still refuses to live in Los Angeles) might be in some doubt. And you know, a team who has lost a lot of close ones may be the kind that finds different ways to lose.
I expect a different atmosphere for these Jags, so taking the points is not a bad idea.
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