Pick Jaguars to Cover vs. Eagles: No, We Are Not Kidding

Jason Lake

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 3:32 PM UTC

Tuesday, Sep. 2, 2014 3:32 PM UTC

If you’re supposed to buy low/sell high when you bet on the NFL, you might want to hold your nose & bet on the Jacksonville Jaguars in Sunday afternoon’s season opener vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Here’s a great football joke for you: the Jacksonville Jaguars. This franchise has been on the skids for three years now, going a combined 11-37 SU and 19-27-2 ATS since QB David Garrard was given his walking papers. From a football betting perspective, the Jaguars hit rock bottom last year when they were ludicrous 26.5-point road dogs against Denver in Week 6. That was down from a record-tying 28 points earlier in the week.

Let’s hope you weren’t too embarrassed to go rummaging around in the NFL betting bargain bin. The Jaguars “only” lost that game 35-19, covering the spread for the first time in 2013 after a brutal 0-5 SU and ATS start. Thus began the long road to recovery; Jacksonville went 4-3 SU and ATS over the next seven games before packing it in at the end of the season. So, are we cool now? Is it okay to… (chuckle) bet on the Jaguars (snort)?


Soy Un Perdedor
We kid because we love. Every veteran of the football betting wars knows how important it is to buy teams when they’re at their lowest. It’s when the nasty jokes start coming that you know that the marketplace has taken things too far. The “loser” narrative is stuck on Jacksonville, and that stuff doesn’t wash off easily. People expect the Jaguars to screw up. They even relish the idea.

It’s bad enough that the Jags are 10-point road dogs this Sunday (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS) against the Philadelphia Eagles – the only double-digit dog on the NFL odds board as we go to press. In case you missed our earlier article about Week 1 betting trends, here’s an excerpt:

Double-digit underdogs are 11-4 ATS in Week 1 since 1997.

Did you get that, Joe? 11-4 ATS since 1997. The thing is, even in today’s corporate, salary-capped NFL, losing teams have an incentive to figure things out and win. Maybe not enough of an incentive to make them instant Super Bowl contenders, but certainly enough to make them put some effort into improving the product on the field. Buy low, sell high.

You shouldn’t pick up just any old team on the rebound, though. Look at the Cleveland Browns – those guys have yet to prove that they’ve got their heads on straight. The Jaguars, on the other hand, have made pretty much all the right gestures since Shahid Khan bought the club in 2012. They’ve got a promising new front office in place, with David Caldwell as GM and Gus Bradley as head coach. And they’ve got a potential new franchise QB in No. 3 overall pick Blake Bortles, who led the UCF Knights to a big upset victory over Baylor (–17) at the Fiesta Bowl.


Butterfly Chad
Unfortunately, before Bortles gets his chance, he has to wait for Chad Henne (76.5 passer rating last year) to pass the torch. But at least Henne isn’t a total dud at quarterback. He’s certainly an improvement over his predecessor, Blaine Gabbert (66.4 career passer rating). And Henne will have a better offense in front of him this year, including second-round pick Marqise Lee out of USC.

On the other side of the ball this Sunday, you have the Philadelphia Eagles, who already enjoyed their bounce-back season last year at 10-6 SU and 8-8 ATS. Unlike Jacksonville, the Eagles were given the benefit of the doubt by the NFL betting universe when Chip Kelly took over as head coach, and they never did manage to exceed market expectation. But these are the Eagles, after all, operating out of a very large market with a rabid fanbase. Let’s see if the Jaguars can string together a few quiet ATS wins in their region before people cotton on.


Five-Star Bank-Exploding Bet Technique
Brand new for 2014, we’re installing a “star” system to help us exploit the betting market. Each of our free NFL picks can be anywhere from zero to five stars, with each star representing a category that casual fans tend to value incorrectly. Today’s free NFL pick has Jacksonville gaining value in three categories and Philadelphia in two. Three minus two is one, so this is a one-star pick for one unit. As usual, we’ll keep a running tally as the year progresses. May the prolate spheroid be with you.

Injuries/Suspensions/Travel: PHI

Defense/Special Teams: JAX

Coaching: PHI

Market Bias: JAX

Betting Line Value: JAX

Free NFL Pick: Put one unit on the Jaguars +10 (+103) at Matchbook

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