The last three weeks have been a slog for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have lost three straight and are in danger of falling out of the AFC South lead. Can the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stay hot and extend Jacksonville’s losing streak on Sunday (12/24/23)? Let’s take a look at Jaguars vs. Buccaneers odds and predictions, with Buccaneers -2 as our best bet.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Prediction
The season is unraveling for the Jaguars at the wrong time, and there are more than a few concerns with Doug Pederson’s team even if Trevor Lawrence is able to play. The offense has shot itself in the foot over and over, struggling near the goal line, running inefficiently and committing a few too many turnovers.
With Zay Jones potentially out in addition to Christian Kirk, the margin for error is getting even smaller for Lawrence in the uncertain event he’s available. A Travis Etienne breakthrough is what this offense needs, but a tough Buccaneers run defense might prevent that from happening.
A beaten-up Jaguars secondary that struggled in two of its last three games is meeting the Buccaneers’ passing game at the wrong time. Even on Baker Mayfield’s bad days, Mike Evans and now Chris Godwin have found ways to make plays. With Mayfield playing the way he is and the Jaguars’ offense constantly hurting itself, it might take a remarkable effort from a healthy Lawrence for Jacksonville to pull this out. He’s done it before, but the Buccaneers are a better pick to win and cover at home.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers prediction: Buccaneers -2 (-110)
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Betting Odds
The Buccaneers enter as slight 2-point home favorites, sitting at -135 on the moneyline. The over/under is 41 points.
The Jaguars were favored by about a field goal heading into this game a week ago, but the uncertainty surrounding Trevor Lawrence’s status and the recent surge by the Buccaneers have made Tampa a slight favorite at Raymond James Stadium. The line has continued to shift toward Tampa mid-week, with the over/under also dropping by 2.5 points.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Key Injuries
The status of Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence (concussion) will be determined late in the week, though coach Doug Pederson said he was “progressing” mid-week. CB Tyson Campbell (quad) and S Andre Cisco (groin) practiced in a limited capacity early in the week and are still up in the air after missing Week 15. WR Zay Jones (hamstring, knee) is week-to-week, which doesn’t bode well for his chances of playing.
For the Buccaneers, WR Chris Godwin is dealing with a minor knee injury but is expected to play. DT Vita Vea (toe) practiced in a limited capacity Wednesday but appears likely to play after gutting it out in Week 15.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Key Matchups
Here are some of the key matchups that could decide Jaguars vs. Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Receivers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Secondary
The Jaguars’ pass defense held it together for the most part against the Ravens, even with both Tyson Campbell and Andre Cisco out. In losses to the Bengals and Browns, however, Jacksonville let backup quarterbacks have a field day. After this unit was shredded by Ja’Marr Chase, it’ll be worth watching what Mike Evans and Chris Godwin can do on Sunday.
The Buccaneers have been rewarded for keeping both of their standout pass-catchers, as Evans has coasted to another 1,000-yard season while Godwin has had a less spectacular year but exploded for 155 yards against the Packers last weekend. With Godwin’s confidence high, the Jaguars might have a tough time keeping tabs on both receivers if Mayfield’s momentum carries into Week 16.
Travis Etienne vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Run Defense
It’s been a difficult year for Travis Etienne, who is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry with two rushing touchdowns in his last seven games. Etienne has been one of the reasons Jacksonville has struggled so much in the red zone, and the lack of an efficient running game has hurt the offense all around. Is there any hope for a breakthrough against the Buccaneers?
Tampa’s run defense has held up well this season, with the Bucs allowing 3.9 yards per carry. The unit has been less steady at the goal line, allowing multi-touchdown games by Chuba Hubbard and Jonathan Taylor in recent weeks, so that may be one area Etienne can finally take advantage. This won’t exactly be a soft landing spot for a struggling runner, though.