Scoring Will Be Difficult Between Defensive-Minded Jaguars & Ravens

JaxJaguars

Rainman M.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 8:14 PM GMT

Wednesday, Sep. 20, 2017 8:14 PM GMT

The Jaguars (1-1) and Ravens (2-0) play Sunday at 9:30 AM ET in London. The Ravens opened up as 2.5 point favorites, but that number has gone up to 4. The game total opened at 40.5 points, but has since dropped to 39.

Baltimore Ravens vs Jacksonville Jaguars

For the Jaguars, quarterback Blake Bortles is a liability. His poor mechanics prevent him from being accurate, so that he often throws behind receivers or overthrows them. He is doing his best to avoid throwing interceptions and plays conservatively, without trust in his ability to make plays down the field. With Bortles, the Jaguars are 22nd in passing yards per attempt.

The Jaguars are seeking to become a run-first team. They hope to avoid trusting Bortles to make plays and rely on their three-headed rush attack, led by rookie Leonard Fournette. In two games, Fournette is producing 3.5 rush yards per attempt and the other running backs have failed to be more productive.

The wide receiving corps for the Jaguars is thinned by the injury of Allen Robinson, who had achieved 1,400 yards in 2015 for the Jaguars. Without much support from his running backs and his mistake-prone offensive line, and because Bortles is inconsistent with his accuracy, he is more dependent on the quality of his wide receivers. But the loss of Robinson takes away a major source of help for Bortles.

Bortles' counterpart for Baltimore, Joe Flacco, is possibly the most overpaid player in the NFL. The cost of his contract has forced significant skill players around him to leave the team. And yet, Flacco is not talented enough to be productive without support around him. His mechanics and pocket presence are questionable, as is his decision-making and his confidence in producing a vertical passing attack. Flacco, like Bortles, has tried to hurt his team as little as possible by being conservative.

Injuries have hurt Flacco's supporting cast. Running back Danny Woodhead and possibly backup Terrance West will miss the trip to London.  Javorious Allen, the 4th round draft pick who rushed the ball only 9 times last season, and is still failing to achieve 4 yards per carry this season, will likely have to carry the load. His offensive line and wide receiving corps has undergone adjustments. Besides lacking talent in these areas, the team chemistry is missing.

On defense, the Jaguars are increasingly relying on their budding superstars. Myles Jack is a sideline-to-sideline animal in his second year, who has the physical ability to play every down, but needs to improve his football intelligence. The fiery Telvin Smith is powerful in pursuit and effectively negotiates traffic with his positive vision in order to attack opposing ball carriers. He is also versatile and effective in pass coverage. The Jaguars improved their run defense and pass attack with the addition of defensive end Calais Campbell from Arizona and the development of their younger stars on the defensive line. 

Though they got shredded by the Titans' running attack last week, the Titans' backs shredded them last season as well because they are elite. The Jaguars were 6th last season in rushing yards allowed per carry and should be able to contain the thin and untalented rushing attack of Baltimore.

The Jaguars have been solid against the lesser quarterbacks of the NFL, which I would classify Flacco as, due to his regression from earlier years. The Jaguars' secondary has improved with the addition of AJ Buoye. Last season, quarterbacks' passer rating was less than 60 in balls thrown in his direction. The Jaguars have a solid secondary to complement a very respectable run defense, both of which are consistently effective against less-than-elite offenses.

The Ravens steeled their defense in the offseason with the addition of Brandon Carr, who has quickly asserted his dominance with Baltimore by allowing only 3 receptions for 37 yards last week, despite being targeted 10 times, and already achieving two interceptions in two games. Carr complements top corner Jimmy Smith, who is effective with his size and speed. Marlon Humphrey and Tony Jefferson are also physical defensive backs who can assist in run support.

The strength of Baltimore's secondary allows defensive coordinator Dean Pees to indulge in his inclination to be aggressive. The physicality of Baltimore's defense extends outside of its secondary, where the monster Brandon Williams leads the defensive line and CJ Mosley the linebacking corps. The unproven Fournette is supposed to give the Jaguars a physical presence out of the backfield. But he will be outmatched by the hard-hitting Ravens defense which boasts youth and quality depth outside of their all-star secondary.


The Verdict

Both offenses lack the playmakers and overall ability to outmatch the opposing defense. Expect a physical and hard-fought game in which the offense that makes the fewest mistakes will win favor for our NFL Picks. Also note the following trend that is 2-0 so far this season: Dating back to 2016, the first-half 'under' is hitting almost 80% of the time for the Jaguars when they are underdogs.

 

Free NFL Pick: Jaguars/Ravens 1H 'Under'Best Line Offered: at Heritage

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3193057, "sportsbooksIds":[169,19,93,1096,123], "LineTypeId":3, "PeriodTypeId":1 }[/]

comment here