This week’s Thursday Night Football game (8:15 p.m. ET) features two teams that could struggle to get the ball in the end zone consistently, but for entirely different reasons.
The New Orleans Saints haven’t scored much all season. In fact, they have yet to have one of their six games go over the point total (set at just 40 for this one at bet365) and they have exceeded 20 points just once (in a 34-0 shellacking of the Patriots in Week 4).
Bet on Jaguars vs. Saints
Meanwhile, Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Pederson has been coy when asked about the status of star quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The QB himself said early this week he hopes to go Thursday night after he sprained his knee in the second half of last week’s 37-20 win over the Colts, but that’s at least in some doubt given the short week. The question the Jags might be asking themselves is whether they’ll need Lawrence against the low-scoring Saints, particularly since they have a capable backup in C.J. Beathard.
Due to Lawrence’s uncertainty and the Saints’ recent improvement in moving the ball (often without scoring touchdowns), this game has a chance to be competitive and that’s reflected in the low point spread (New Orleans -1).
Jaguars vs. Saints odds
|Jaguars Moneyline Odds||+100|
|Saints Moneyline Odds||-120|
|Spread odds||Saints -1 (-110), Jaguars +1 (-110)|
|Over/Under||40 points (over -110, under -110)|
|Time/Date||Oct. 19, 8:15 p.m. ET|
About the Jaguars (4-2 SU, 4-2 ATS, 3-3 o/u)
It’s likely we’ll have to wait until game time to learn of Lawrence’s status. Beathard, 29, has been with the Jaguars since 2021, appearing in eight games but he has thrown only 15 passes, completing 11 of them for 77 yards with an interception.
The Jags sit atop the AFC South after a couple of convincing wins the past two weeks over Buffalo and Indianapolis. They looked particularly balanced on offence vs. Indy, scoring two touchdowns each on the ground and through the air. The defence intercepted Gardner Minshew three times to make it lopsided.
Both of these teams have had ball-hawking secondaries, tied for second in the league with eight interceptions.
The Jaguars defence has been stout in all facets and they’ll look to exploit injuries along the New Orleans front to make life miserable on Derek Carr and everyone else in the New Orleans backfield.
The Jags will be playing their first true road game since Week 1. Cynics will throw out last week’s win since Indy typically struggles badly in Jacksonville and the Jags’ previous two wins came across the pond in London (their home away from home), so this might be a bit of a prove-it game for Jacksonville.
About the Saints (3-3 SU, 1-4-1 ATS, 0-6 o/u)
This offence isn’t as bad as its scoring ability would suggest. Carr threw for a season-high 353 yards and a touchdown last week in a 20-13 loss to the Texans despite out-gaining Houston by 130 yards. He’s got fairly decent targets in receivers Chris Olave, Michael Thomas and Rashid Shaheed, but injuries have disrupted some of his chemistry with the group and Olave might not go in this one.
Carr doesn’t have much of a running game to fall back on, as New Orleans is averaging fewer than 100 yards rushing per game and Alvin Kamara had a relatively robust rushing total for this group with 68 yards on the ground last week. That’s a pretty paltry bar for the franchise’s all-time rushing TD leader.
If you don’t know what DVOA means, this might be the game to learn about it.
That’s because the Saints have the league’s No. 7 defence adjusted value over average (DVOA) when it comes to the passing game. They should be able to cover Jacksonville’s strong group of receivers led by Christian Kirk and Calvin Ridley. They also have a consistent-enough pass rush to keep whoever is in the Jacksonville pocket from getting too comfortable, whether that’s Lawrence on a tender knee or Beathard (who’s not as mobile as Lawrence when both are healthy).
This defence held Texans QB CJ Stroud, who has been outstanding in his first NFL games, to under 200 yards for his first time all season. The Saints are averaging just 182 yards allowed in the air this season, which ranks fifth. They also have managed to pry 10 takeaways from opposing offences. Whoever plays under centre for Jacksonville will have his hands full finding holes in this talented and ball-hawking secondary.
Jaguars to score under 20 points
In addition to Lawrence, the Jags have four questionable players for this one: G Brandon Scherff (ankle), CB Tyson Campbell (hamstring), OT Walker Little (knee) and WR Zay Jones (Jones).
The Saints are about as banged-up as any team in the NFL, with RB Jamaal Williams on injured reserve with a hamstring injury and OT Landon Young (hip), TE Juwan Johnson (calf), WR Olave (toe) and LB Demario Davis all questionable (knee) for this one.
It should be a pleasant evening in the Big Easy, but those inside the Caesars Superdome won’t have to concern themselves with the outside weather in the climate-controlled stadium.
- New Orleans has one win against the spread this year, but it is winless ATS when favoured (0-5). It has gone 2-3 as the moneyline favourite.
- Jacksonville is 1-1 when an underdog this season.
- The Jaguars have played four games this season in which the combined score exceeded 40 points.
Player prop trends
- Travis Etienne Jr. scored twice against the Colts, giving him five rushing touchdowns on the season, which matches his total from his entire rookie season of 2022. He is the first Jags player with multiple TDs from scrimmage in consecutive games since Maurice Jones-Drew in 2009.
- Kamara has had more than 30 yards receiving in two of three games this season and Jacksonville is allowing an average of 40 yards receiving to running backs. Only two teams in the NFL have allowed more pass completions to backs than the Jags’ 39.
- If Olave plays, keep a sharp eye out for his longest reception. He tends to be New Orleans’ deep threat and Jacksonville has allowed a completion of 28 or more yards in every game.
Wagers to consider
- This over seems too low given the Saints’ offensive uptick, which has to pay off in points at some point, and the fact that Beathard has done some good things in the past. The expectation here is that New Orleans should finally break through with points against a slightly overrated defence and Jacksonville will keep it competitive no matter who plays QB.
- Etienne is a good bet (at -110) to score an anytime touchdown given the run he has been on. Especially if Lawrence isn’t under centre, the Jags figure to hand the ball off when they get close and this could be an easy ticket to cash.