Jaguars to Cover vs. Bengals for Week 9 NFL Picks

Nikki Adams

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 5:13 PM GMT

The Jacksonville Jaguars search for only their second win on the season when they descend on the Cincinnati Bengals. Can the Jaguars defy the NFL odds? Find out as we preview this game and serve up NFL picks.

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7, 0-4 away)
The Jacksonville Jaguars are coming off a 27-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins at home, a week after they clinched their first win on the season at the expense of the Cleveland Browns (24-6).

After demonstrating a drastic turnaround on form in week 8 NFL betting, the Jaguars slipped back to their losing ways largely down to some costly mistakes by rookie Blake Bortles. Two interceptions returned for touchdowns lifted the Dolphins to the pivotal road win at the weekend and prompted the inexperienced starter to a rather gloomy self-assessment. “I am killing us,“ he was quoted by ESPN, “I’ve got to try to eliminate different things and get better.”

Bortles went 18-of-34 for 221 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions on Sunday. His effort will be most remembered for the dubious honour of becoming the first quarterback since the hapless Geno Smith last year to have two picks returned for a touchdown in a game. In the last six games, Bortles has had four interceptions returned for touchdowns.

By the numbers, the Jaguars are poor reading. They rank at the bottom of the NFL charts in just about every category. They are 27th in the league in passing offense with 209.4 yards per game and 25th in rushing offense with 97.3 yards per game. Defense is nothing to write home about either ranked 27th defending the pass at 267.4 yards allowed per game and 20th against the rush with 115.0 yards allowed.

If there were a bright spot for the Jaguars, it’s the fact that they haven’t been blown off the field recently. After four straight blowouts to start the season (all saw the ‘over’ cash for NFL bettors), in which they were outscored 152-to-58 for an average margin of defeat of minus 23.5-points per game, their subsequent four games have seen them outscored only 66-to-42 for an average margin of defeat of minus 6-points per game. That’s a decided improvement, but small consolation for a season that is all but a write-off with a 1-7 SU record.  

 

Cincinnati Bengals (4-2-1, 3-0-1 home)
Andy Daltons last-gasp touchdown lifted the Bengals to a 27-24 win over divisional rivals Baltimore Ravens last week. Bengals improved to 4-2-1 on the season on the back of the win and snapped a winless three-game stretch (two defeats and a draw).

When once the Bengals were riding high in NFL power rankings dubbed one of the best teams in the NFL this season, now they are mired in middle obscurity. Fanfare and enthusiasm for them steadily waning in NFL betting circles after a 43-17 defeat to New England, a 37-37 tie with the Panthers in overtime and a crushing 27-0 loss to the Colts. Indeed, the Bengals were in danger of going winless four in row but for Dalton’s sneaky 1-yard touchdown with 57 seconds left on the clock.

Overall, the Bengals rank modestly in the NFL charts. They are 14th in passing offense with 241.4 yards per game and 16th in rushing offense with 111.4 yards per game. On the defensive side, they are lowly 23rd against the pass with 258.4 yards allowed per game and an even worse 29th against the rush with 140.7 yards allowed per game.

 

NFL Betting Analysis
As far as matchups go, this is one of the lopsided matchups of week 9 NFL betting. Therefore, it’s not surprising to find the Bengals as the whopping -600 favourites to win SU and the Jaguars disadvantaged on +450 NFL odds. Indeed, as far as money line odds go, theirs is one of two one-sided straight-up betting markets trading on the NFL odds board – the other being Raiders vs. Seahawks.

NFL bettors looking to weigh in on this game should look the beyond straight up betting markets for value NFL picks. The spread is nestled as high as 12.5-points at several sportsbooks, which is a hefty spread all things being considered. For one, the Bengals have actually been scoring and conceding points in equal proportion over seven games – they are averaging 23-points per game and conceding 23.4 points per game. Granted those numbers are skewed slightly by their 27-0 loss to the Colts, but it leaves the Bengals sitting on a 4-3 ATS mark and a -0.4-margin.

Another aspect to consider is the Jaguars have been playing their opponents much closer of late, a fact that has seen them go 2-6 ATS and brought down their average margin of defeat to minus 12.5-points across eight games.  If there is one thing that concerns us the most, which could swing this game wholeheartedly towards the Bengals as the NFL betting spread suggests, it’s Blake Bortles state of mind. How seriously do we take his post-game remarks? Was he just being candid or is his confidence teetering on the edge of a steep cliff. In a quarterback centric game, polish and poise in the pocket is crucial towards success. If Bortles starts doubting every decision he makes on the field, then the Jaguars are in danger of reverting to their blowout ways.

 

NFL Betting Verdict
Overall, Blake Bortles hasn’t been playing badly, save for week 8’s account against Miami. Indeed, if not for the pair of interceptions, Miami was having a tough time beating the Jaguars. This is a road game, where the Jaguars have struggled mightily. But those small measured improvements in their last four games augur well against a Bengals side that frankly doesn’t blow the opposition off the field. Therefore, the Jaguars to cover on the spread would seem to be a good NFL pick in our books.

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