Thursday Night NFL Picks: Bet Jaguars -3 Over Titans

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 12:07 PM UTC

Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014 12:07 PM UTC

It's the final Thursday night NFL game of the 2014 season and, frankly, it would serve both Tennessee and Jacksonville well to lose it for draft purposes. The Jaguars opened as 3-point home favorites on BetOnline's NFL odds with a total of 41.

Draft Musings
As things currently stand, the Titans (2-12) would pick second in the 2015 NFL Draft with Jacksonville third. However, obviously one of these teams is going to add a win Thursday barring a tie. Tampa Bay (2-12) would pick first right now because it wins the strength of schedule tiebreaker vs. the Titans. Oakland (2-12) would pick fourth. Those are your four two-win teams. It behooves Tennessee to get ahead of Tampa Bay if the Titans, as expected, want their choice of quarterbacks in the draft. It's presumed the Buccaneers will take one. Jacksonville, however, wouldn't.

Tennessee did itself some favors with Sunday's 16-11 home loss to the Jets, which got New York its third win of the season. Amazingly, it was the first NFL game in history to end with a 16-11 score. Titans QB Zack Mettenberger was lost for the season in Week 14 so former first-round pick Jake Locker got the start against the Jets. However, he left with an injured left shoulder in the second quarter -- the sixth game in his young career that Locker has left injured -- so the team turned to Charlie Whitehurst. He wasn't very good, going 10-for-24 for 203 yards with no touchdowns. As of now, it looks like Whitehurst will start this game.

The Titans played the Jets without top receiver Kendall Wright due to a hand injury and he's questionable for Thursday. Wright has 51 catches for 633 yards and five scores.

Tennessee is 3-10-1 against the NFL betting odds this season and 6-8 'over/under.'

Jags May Turn to Henne
Jacksonville might have to turn to its backup quarterback on Thursday in Chad Henne. That's because rookie starter Blake Bortles is questionable with a sprained foot. Bortles did play the entire game Sunday, a 20-12 loss to the Ravens, but he was battered as he has been all season behind a weak offensive line. Bortles was 21 of 37 for 210 yards with no touchdowns and a pick against the Ravens, who sacked him eight times. Bortles has thrown an interception in every game but one and leads the league with 17 picks. Jacksonville quarterbacks have been sacked a league-high 62 times. That's one shy of the franchise record set in 2001.

The Jaguars gave Baltimore all it could handle, taking a 12-10 lead into the third quarter. You could tell the Jags had nothing to play for as they threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Ravens, attempting an onside kick and a fake punt and both were successful.

So if Bortles can't go, Henne at least is experienced. He started the first two games before being pulled at halftime of Game No. 3. He is 42-for-78 for 492 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He started both games against the AFC South-rival Titans last year, going 1-1. In a 29-27 win in Nashville, he was 14-for-23 for 180 yards with two interceptions. In a 20-16 home loss, Henne was 24-for-34 for 237 yards, two touchdowns and a pick.

Also, starting Jaguars running back Denard Robinson missed the Ravens game with a foot sprain. He's done for the season. Toby Gerhart got the start and had a season-high 54 yards on 13 carries.

Jacksonville is 4-9-1 against the spread this season and 7-7 'over/under' at sportsbooks.

First Meeting
Tennessee was a 4-point favorite at sportsbooks in Week 6 at home and beat Jacksonville 16-14. Whitehurst did start that game, going 17-for-28 for 233 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Bortles threw for a career-high 336 yards on 32 of 46 passing. He had a touchdown an interception. Jacksonville outgained the Titans 379-290 and was 8-for-15 on third down but also turned it over twice to the Titans' none. Sammie Hill blocked Josh Scobee's 55-yard potential winning field-goal attempt with three seconds left.

NFL Free Picks: Jaguars and 'under' will be our NFL pick for this game. This one could be offensively ugly. Both Jacksonville wins have come at home. The Titans have lost six straight on the road. 

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