Last Updated: 2019-08-13
If this was a regular season game, the sports world would be abuzz with storylines. Sadly, it isn’t. It is a Week 2 game in the 2019 NFL Preseason. But, still, there are a lot of intriguing things to consider as the Philadelphia Eagles head down to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars. Jacksonville is a field goal favorite in this one with a total of 35 for Thursday night’s opening kickoff for NFLX Week 2.
Why so many storylines? Isn’t it obvious? Big Dick Nick Foles is now the signal caller for the Jaguars. After leading the Eagles to Super Bowl LII glory, the Foles magic ran out in the Divisional Round against the Saints by a 20-14 score, but things surely could have gone a lot different in that game.
Now, the Eagles will put all of their eggs in the Carson Wentz basket. And maybe more eggs than they wanted to. Backup Nate Sudfeld broke his non-throwing wrist and will miss at least six weeks. That means Cody Kessler is now the unquestioned #2 and Northwestern product Clayton Thorson appears to be two injuries away from taking snaps in a real game, assuming the Eagles don’t scour the waiver wire during the multiple preseason roster cut-downs.
Wentz, who did not play in the Week 1 preseason game, has suffered season-ending injuries in back-to-back years. We’ll see if Sudfeld’s injury affects Wentz’s playing time this week, but he hasn’t played in a live game since December 9, 2018, so Doug Pederson probably wants him to get some reps. Kessler has plenty of NFL experience, so that isn’t an issue as far as the backup role. He’ll see the bulk of the work this week after going just 3-for-6 last week for 12 yards. The plan last week was to take an extended look at Sudfeld.
Speaking of quarterback situations, Foles didn’t play in the opener for the Jaguars, which was an ugly affair. Jacksonville managed a whopping total of 112 yards of offense and eight first downs. Gardner Minshew was decapitated at his own goal line for a Baltimore touchdown and went 7-for-14 for just 46 yards. Alex McGough was 3-of-8 for 19 yards. Tanner Lee had six dropbacks and was sacked three times. He failed to complete a pass.
Foles wasn’t the only one that sat. Marqise Lee, who is questionable for Week 1, was among several skill players that sat out. That group included Leonard Fournette, Dede Westbrook, Terrelle Pryor, plus a lot of offensive and defensive personnel that took it easy against a very physical Baltimore bunch.
This will be another showcase game for Minshew, who was bad in game action, but practiced well by several reports in the lead-up to this one. Right now, he is the backup QB. The Jaguars are hoping for more from Ryquell Armstead as well. The rookie out of Temple has competition from guys like Devante Mays, Alfred Blue, and Thomas Rawls for reps behind Fournette.
These are two pretty well-established teams, which makes this a difficult handicap. Marrone sat a third of the team last week and he’s just looking to fill backup roles on both sides of the ball. Of course, Jacksonville is coming off of a pathetic 5-11 season, but Foles should ignite the offense and the defense should be extremely stout again. The Eagles just need to get through the preseason with Wentz healthy. That is really the only objective at this point in time. Philadelphia’s depth does outclass Jacksonville’s in a lot of respects, so that merits consideration in the second half.
My guess would be that the Eagles and Jaguars both want to establish the run over the final three quarters. Pederson has incentive to give Kessler some more opportunities to get a better feel for the playbook since he’s an injury away from starting, but the Eagles had 17 carries for 37 yards last week against Tennessee. Meanwhile, the Titans rushed for 125 and threw for 263. That means that the defense will be in the spotlight. After facing 77 total plays last week, it would behoove the Eagles to play with a little ground and pound in anticipation for next week’s dress rehearsal.
Jacksonville just needs some positives after last week’s abominable offensive showing. Foles knows the personnel on the Philadelphia side really well after spending the last few seasons in the Eagles locker room and on the sideline. In theory, that should give the Jags a big boost, but he’s also unlikely to play more than a quarter. That means the Minshew & McGough Variety Hour will decide your bet in the second half.
Given how the backups for the Eagles defense played last week, a lot of guys have a lot of motivation on that side of the ball.
Doug Marrone is 8-10 in the preseason in his career and 5-4 with the Jaguars following last week’s loss. Pederson fell to 7-6 with last week’s defeat. He was 4-0 in his first year at the helm and has gone 3-6 since, as his team has evolved into a top contender in the NFC. Some coaches push it in the preseason. Pederson did to set a tone early on, but he hasn’t been as invested in that sort of thing lately.
Pick: Philadelphia +3
With that being said, the Eagles are the pick here. The beleaguered Brotherly Love defense gave up a lot of points and a lot of yards to the Titans last week. That can’t sit well with anybody fighting for jobs, so they’ll play with some more fire this week. Cody Kessler is an upgrade to Gardner Minshew and Alex McGough. My personal belief is that the Eagles should run the ball a little more, but last week was a showcase for Nate Sudfeld. This week might as well be the same thing for Kessler, who should actually be pretty well-equipped to run this offense.
We won’t see Foles and Wentz for long, but when we do, they should be throwing. A few sportsbooks out there offer up 1st Quarter lines for the preseason. I think 1st Q over for this one is a good derivative play.
<< Previous PostNext Post >>