This Sunday afternoon in the swamp, one team will continue to cling to their final shred of hope of contending this year, while the other will plunge into a full-blown tank season. It’s a week=9 matchup of 2-win teams, as the Raiders come down to Jacksonville to face the Jaguars. Both teams made some splashy offseason moves on offense, and brought in a new head coach, but neither experiment is working as the two franchises had hoped they would. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks as these two sides try to fight towards redemption.
Raiders Vs. Jaguars Betting Odds
The Raiders are set up as narrow favorites on the road, as they’re sitting at -1.5 coming into this one. The points total is set at 48, an understandable spot for two teams whose offenses and defenses have both been generally pretty average this season.
Raiders Vs. Jaguars Prediction
The Jags were one of the most talked-about teams this offseason as they made significant investments to improve the offense around young QB Trevor Lawrence, last year’s #1 overall pick. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have been quite enough. On the offensive side of the ball, the Jags are scoring 21.5 points per game, good for just 20th in the NFL, and Lawrence is sitting in 21st amongst qualifiers in QB passer rating amidst an up-and-down season. Of course, the 2-6 record while the defense is allowing less than 20 points per game is perhaps the most scathing indictment. There have certainly been signs of life- two early, dominant wins over the Colts and Chargers had folks around the league thinking that Doug Pederson was the change Jacksonville needed, but five consecutive losses since that Chargers game, including an ugly showing against the Broncos in England, have most rethinking that notion.
The Raiders, some might say, are an extremely unlucky 2-5. They lost by less than a touchdown in each of their first games before snapping off two wins in three games, interspersed with a very gutsy one-point loss in Kansas City. This week was a stunner however, as Vegas went down South for a matchup with the Saints and got shut out. They’ll need to bounce back in a big way to prove that last weekend was a fluke, and they can still make something of this season. One route to making that happen could be an increased emphasis on the connection between Davante Adams and Derek Carr, which was severely limited on Sunday as Adams played after being listed as questionable with illness.
This is an interesting matchup, as both teams’ point differential and peak performances suggest that they could be much better than their records show. That being said, the Raiders have been highly competitive in every football game until their last, while the Jags have spent much of the season looking like the team their record would suggest they are. I’m taking Vegas to cover the small spread, and taking the under in a matchup between two offenses that have seriously struggled of late.
- The Raiders have covered the spread just once in their past 6 matchups with teams with a losing record
- The Jags have covered just once in their past 7 such games
- The over is undefeated in the Raiders’ past 4 games against AFC competition
- The under has hit in each of the past 5 games played in Jacksonville
Raiders Injuries: Darren Waller (O), Tashawn Bower (O)
Jaguars Injuries: Jamal Agnew (O)
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Raiders Vs. Jaguars below.
Raiders Rushing Offense vs. Jaguars Run Defense
Evaluating the Vegas rushing offense is an absolutely fascinating exercise coming into this matchup. Before the shutout, lead back Josh Jacobs had been on an absolute heater, racking up 143 yards or more in 3 consecutive games, and scoring 6 touchdowns over that span. He has been essentially the entire rushing offense for the Raiders this season; the team averages 115.6 rushing yards per game, good for 18th in the NFL, but 96.6 of those yards belong to Jacobs alone. In fact, Derek Carr is the team’s second-leading rusher on the season with a paltry 67 yards. Jacobs has also done it behind the mediocre offensive line play most of us expected from Las Vegas; Oakland has earned PFF’s second-best rushing grade this year, but they sit 25th in run blocking. However, the shutout in Louisiana stemmed in large part from shutting down the ground game for the Raiders. Jacobs put up just 43 yards on 10 carries, and the rest of the team totaled a depressing -5 rushing yards. If the Raiders can do what they did for most of October and run the ball downhill for four quarters, they’ll positively coast to a win in this one- but a repeat of last week would be a disaster.
The Saints have a solid rushing defense to be sure, but so do the Jaguars. They rank 10th in PFF’s run defense metric, and 12th in the league with 109.1 rushing yards allowed per game. Edge rusher Josh Allen and linebacker Devin Lloyd have led the way for Jacksonville’s run prevention unit, with 21 run-stops between the two of them. Lloyd, however, has missed a few too many tackles, as has Foyesade Oluokun, who has the most run defense snaps, stops and tackles for Jacksonville, but has whiffed on far too many of his opportunities. First-overall pick Travon Walker has also been solid in his rookie season, although he too has missed too many tackles and also been penalized more than most of Jacksonville’s defenders. This unit will have to be at its best to neutralize Jacobs and play complimentary football to allow their offense to control the game.
Jaguars Passing Offense vs. Raiders Pass Defense
The Jaguars offensive skill players have really wasted an outstanding blocking performance so far. Their o-line is the third-best pass blocking unit in the league according to PFF, as they’ve played at an elite level this season, anchored by tackles Jawaan Taylor and Cam Robinson. Unfortunately, that receiving corps in which the Jags invested so much resources has been a massive disappointment, ranking 27th in the eyes of PFF, while Lawrence’s passing efforts land his team a 30th-place passing grade by the same measurement system. PFF actually has Lawrence ranked 32nd among the 39 passers who have dropped back more than 72 times, sandwiched right between Kenny Pickett and Matt Ryan. The other biggest culprits in the failings of Jacksonville’s air game, which has racked up 218.9 yards per game (20th in the league) are veteran wideout Marvin Jones Jr. and newcomer tight end Evan Engram, who have both struggled with dropping the ball this year.
The good news for the Jags is that they’ll be facing against a pretty awful pass defense from Vegas, which allows over 250 yards in the NFL, a number that ranks 25th in the NFL. They’ve had inconsistencies in pass rush, ranking 19th in the league by PFF’s mark, and really struggled in coverage, where they’ve placed 26th by the same metric. Overall, the defense has forced a league-low four turnovers; a fluky number to a certain degree, but also a sign that the pass prevention group needs to create more chaos. Safety Duron Harmon has been the best of fellow ex-Patriot Josh McDaniels’ defensive backfield; he has a team-best PFF coverage grade of 78.5, more than 10 points ahead of second place, and has grabbed two of the team’s 3 interceptions as well as forcing one of the team’s 3 fumbles. All of Vegas’s linebackers, most prolifically Divine Deablo, have been mediocre to awful in pass coverage, and the same goes for the cornerbacks, highlighted (or lowlighted?) by Rock Ya-Sin, who has spent more snaps in pass coverage than any other Vegas corner, but has a PFF coverage score of 61.8 and a team-high two pass coverage penalties. The pass rush has unsurprisingly been led by Maxx Crosby off the edge, who has by far the team’s best PFF pass rush grade, a comfortable team lead with 6 sacks (second place: 1), and has also forced a fumble. However, Crosby has not had much in the way of support from his front seven-mates. The Raiders are up against an opponent they can handle, but it’ll take big games from their top performers and a step up from a handful of other key players for them to really bury the Jags in this big road opportunity.