Falcons To Tame The Jaguars In Preseason Finale

Falcons' running into the field

Monday, August 29, 2016 6:06 PM GMT

The Jacksonville Jaguars travel to the Georgia Dome to take on the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night, the final exhibition tune-up. Get your free NFL pick with the analysis here. 

Expect each team's starters to sit in this Week 4 exhibition matchup, as they get some rest and gear up for the beginning of the regular season next week.

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS)
The Jaguars rallied from an 18-point deficit Sunday night to beat the Cincinnati Bengals 26-21 at EverBank Field. Fueled by linebacker Hayes Pullard's 63-yard interception return, which set up the go-ahead touchdown, head coach Gus Bradley's squad put up 23 second half points. This is good news for Jags fans entering the final preseason contest with backups, rookies, and reserves aiming to play the majority of the game.

Expect backup QB Chad Henne to take the majority of snaps versus Atlanta. The seven-year pro has a lot of game experience, having started 53 NFL regular-season contests between his time with the Jags and Miami Dolphins. But he's played poorly in August this year. Henne's tossed for 202 yards on 19 of 37 passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He's accrued a 54.1 passer rating.

Defensively, the Jags have allowed 65 points through three games, third most in the AFC behind the Cleveland Browns (71) and Indianapolis Colts (70), but have played better than the number. The unit yields 304 yards total per contest, and its 4.5 yards per play allowed is tied for second fewest in the conference with the Denver Broncos. The Baltimore Ravens top the list (4.4). Preventing big plays and standing tall in the red zone is needed.

Atlanta Falcons (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS)
Offensively, the Falcons could only muster two field goals in their Week 3 dress rehearsal against the Dolphins at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. last Thursday night. Quarterback Matt Ryan completed 12 of 22 passes for 129 yards with an interception, while backups Matt Schaub and Sean Renfree combined to go 17 of 21 for 146 passing yards. It will be up to the latter two to guide Atlanta in its final tune-up.

Schaub, a former NFL starter, is showing a lot of patience this preseason and cautiously enjoying the short-passing game. He's compiled a 73.7 completion percentage and 103.6 passer rating through three games, yet has not tossed for a score or a pick. Renfree, likewise, has not found the end zone and has allowed one interception in 19 passing attempts.

The Falcons entered Week 3 with one of the top rushing attacks but was stuffed by the Dolphins front seven for 31 yards on 15 carries. Despite the poor night, they still average 4.0 yards per carry, tied for 11th best in the NFL this preseason.

Atlanta's 260.3 yards allowed per game are the third fewest in the NFC. It has stopped the run and pass equally well but has forced just one takeaway. Head coach Dan Quinn will want to see a hungrier unit doing its part to tally a positive turnover margin.

Final Analysis
Quinn is a perfect 3-0 in the preseason at the Georgia Dome in his young coaching career, and we expect him to notch another victory Thursday night when they face Jaguars. Henne's poor play likely continues on the road against a defense looking to get more aggressive. Schaub grinds it out with a conservative, mistake-free approach on offense. Falcons to cover is the free NFL pick.

Free NFL Pick: Falcons -3 -130
Best Line Offered: at 5 Dimes

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