- Is Blake Bortles trustworthy? Bortles and a subpar receiving corps will be under the spotlight this season as the Jaguars battle for another AFC South title.
Here at SI Gambling, we are going to unveil our NFL betting experts’ win total previews for all 32 NFL teams. Make sure to check out all of them, as well as the rest of our gambling content, at si.com/gambling.
Jaguars 2018 win total: 9 (over -125, under +105)
Jaguars 2017 record: 10-6
Key offseason acquisitions: S Cody Davis, CB D.J. Hayden, QB Cody Kessler, WR Donte Moncrief, OG Andrew Norwell, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Key offseason losses: CB Aaron Colvin, QB Chad Henne, WR Allen Hurns, RB Chris Ivory, TE Marcedes Lewis, P Brad Nortman, OG Patrick Omameh, LB Paul Posluszny, WR Allen Robinson
Five things to keep in mind before betting the Jaguars’ win total
1. Everything in Jacksonville revolves around the defense. The unit was dominant last season, ranking first in adjusted passing yards per attempt and interception rate, and second in total defense, scoring defense, sacks, sack rate and total interceptions. Add it up, and you get Football Outsiders’ No. 1 defense by DVOA. There is high-end talent at every level of the defense, from the front four led by Yannick Ngakoue, Calais Campbell and Malik Jackson, to Telvin Smith and Myles Jack in the middle, to Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye in the secondary. There are questions on offense, but the defense seems to all but guarantee that the Jaguars will be right back in the thick of the playoff hunt.
2. Jacksonville nearly made it to the Super Bowl behind a dominant defense, a game-controlling rushing attack and a passing game that did enough. That formula is in play this season, and could be even more dangerous if Leonard Fournette can stay healthy all year. Fournette slowed down in the second half of his rookie year, and lost three games to an ankle injury, an issue that dates back to his LSU days. He cut down to 223 pounds after weighing 240 at last year’s combine, and that could keep some strain off his problematic ankles. If Fournette takes a step forward this year, the Jaguars’ path to 10 wins gets a whole lot clearer.
3. Is Blake Bortles trustworthy? That’s a valid question, even after he did everything the team asked of him last year. If one thing can sink this team it’s shoddy quarterback play, and we’ve seen that all too often from Bortles during his career. It isn’t just Bortles, either. With Marqise Lee out for the season, the team’s top pass-catchers are Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, Donte Moncrief and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. That’s a bottom-quarter group in the league, with the possibility of being one of the two or three worst. Someone is going to make Jacksonville win through the air at some point this season. When that happens, will this passing attack be up to the challenge?
4. How will this team deal with expectations? Entering last year, the Jaguars were coming off a 3-13 season. They hadn’t made the playoffs since 2007. They were just 4-3 heading into their Week 8 bye, though they allowed fewer than 10 points in all of their wins. They were able to remain relatively anonymous until winning six of their first seven games after the bye. That won’t be the case this season. They certainly seem like a team equipped to handle the pressure and spotlight of being a Super Bowl contender to start the season, but you can never be sure how a team will perform with the weight of expectations until it has to do so.
5. The Jaguars went 4-2 in the division last year, sweeping the Texans and Colts while dropping two to the Titans. The division may not prove quite so easy this season, especially since they didn’t face Deshaun Watson or Andrew Luck in their four wins. Their first-place schedule nets them matchups with the Steelers and Chiefs, and they also draw the AFC East and NFC East. They’re the early favorite in nine games, and the prices on both the over and under are fair. The line feels like a true toss-up, but this could be a generational defense. That pushes them just over the edge.
PICK: OVER 9 wins
Other NFL team betting previews: Titans, Rams, Redskins, Panthers, Lions, Ravens, Patriots, Jets, Vikings, Bills, Raiders, Cowboys, Texans, Broncos, 49ers, Steelers, Cardinals, Browns, Buccaneers, Bengals, Giants, Saints, Packers, Falcons, Chiefs, Bears, Chargers, Dolphins, Eagles, Seahawks