Jaguars vs. Saints NFL Picks: Side With Jacksonville +3.5, Even If Brees Plays

Jason Lake

Thursday, December 24, 2015 1:02 PM GMT

Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015 1:02 PM GMT

The Drew Brees injury situation has Sunday's game between the New Orleans Saints and the Jacksonville Jaguars circled on most NFL odds boards – but not all of them.

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NFL Pick: Jaguars +3.5

Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

Jason's 2015 record as of Dec. 23: 49-47-3 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 25-32-1 Total

Remember when Drew Brees was out looking for a job? Back in 2006, the San Diego Chargers didn't think highly enough of Brees to give him the kind of contract he wanted, so he signed with the New Orleans Saints instead. Good timing – that was also head coach Sean Payton's first season in the Big Easy. Three years later, they won the Super Bowl.

Brees has only missed a handful of starts in nearly 10 full seasons with New Orleans. This Sunday's game (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS) against the Jacksonville Jaguars could be one of those rare absences; Brees has been diagnosed with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot, and is officially listed as questionable. As a result, most of the sportsbooks on our NFL odds board have this game circled until more information comes in.

 

Sole Survivor
Most of them. As we go to press, you can find the Saints (5-9 SU, 6-7-1 ATS) laying 3.5 points at the Superdome if you shop around. Action has been far too light to produce any consensus reports, but according to our spies on the Interwebs, most of the early betting was on New Orleans before Brees was diagnosed with his foot injury.

In theory, this opens up the door for us to make a “blind” value bet on Jacksonville (5-9 SU, 7-6-1 ATS). The advanced metrics at both Football Outsiders and Pro-Football-Reference say the Jaguars have had the better season; P-F-R has Jacksonville valued 1.7 points higher than New Orleans on the Simple Rating System, so getting 3.5 points on the road might already be a bargain for Jags supporters, even if Brees were to suit up and play at his usual level.

 

Young Master Grayson
We're not going to speculate too much about who's going to quarterback the Saints this week. The team didn't practice Wednesday after dropping a 35-27 decision to the Detroit Lions (+2.5 away) on Monday Night Football, but Brees would not have practiced anyway. Payton was mum about whether veteran Matt Flynn or rookie Garrett Grayson would start on Sunday if Brees couldn't go. Luke McCown, who filled in admirably for Brees in Week 3, is on injured reserve with a bad back.

The Jaguars have some injuries of their own, including RB T.J. Yeldon (4.1 yards per carry), who expects to miss Sunday's game with a knee injury. But the Jags are relatively healthy otherwise, and they can still win the AFC South with a pair of victories and a lot of help. We'd be inclined to put Jacksonville in our NFL picks at +3.5 even if Brees were 100 percent. That spread isn't going to be around much longer if Flynn or Grayson get the start instead.

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