Some NFL handicappers think the Lions may have a shot at the NFC North championship, while the Jaguars are looking like an 8-8 team this year. What's the best bet for Friday's match?
What We Know About The Coaches
Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell is 6-12 in the preseason, 1-1 in this preseason after his team lost to the Washington Redskins in game two last week. The Lions are definitely getting what they want out of their defense. They lost to Washington because of third-stringers not holding up well in the fourth quarter.
Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley is 3-7 in the preseason, 1-1 this preseason after his team lost to the New York Giants last week. Jacksonville’s first unit played well, but the backups similarly lost the plot and could not do much of anything. These coaches seem to be on the same plane in the preseason.
The Lions got an effective outing from starter Matthew Stafford (6 of 8 completions, no interceptions) against Washington, and second-stringer Dan Orlovsky likely secured the main backup spot by going 13 of 17 in a very impressive showing versus the Redskins. Kellen Moore struggled as the number three quarterback, completing only 3 of 7 passes for 31 yards.
For the Jaguars, starter Blake Bortles needs the reps under center because he is young. He led three drives of 10 plays or more versus the Giants last week. They didn’t end in touchdowns, but they did produce points, and without a dropped pass in the end zone and a holding penalty, the Jags might have scored touchdowns. Bortles’ improvements, plus the need for backup Chad Henne to remain prepared to take over during the season, probably give Jacksonville a slight edge here.
Team Depth & Rotations
The Lions lost defensive tackle Caraun Reid, guard Larry Warford, tight end Jordan Thompson, and linebacker Kevin Snyder to injuries. They should not play in this game and won’t be expected to play.
The Jaguars won’t play tight end Julius Thomas, who is still dealing with a broken hand. Receiver Marqise Lee is recovering from a hamstring injury, and running back T.J. Yeldon has a sprained finger. Jacksonville backup offensive tackle Josh Wells; receiver Arrelious Benn; linebacker LaRoy Reynolds; and receiver Damian Copeland are also going to be out with injuries. These four players picked up injuries in the game against the New York Giants.
Call this one in favor of Detroit – the attrition is notable on both sides, but the numbers are greater with the Jaguars.
Outlook & Pick
The Jaguars have younger skill position players who need to do more in the preseason. Jacksonville, playing at home, is the better choice in this game. Detroit might pull back a little bit in terms of playing its starters, even though this is Week 3, when starters often get more playing time compared to Week 2. It's also worth mentioning before locking in our NFL picks that Caldwell is 1-3 all-time in Week 3.
NFL Pick: Jaguars -2 at Pinnacle