Two teams with Super Bowl aspirations will get together Saturday night for a preseason dress rehearsal as the Jacksonville Jaguars host the Atlanta Falcons. The Jaguars are listed as a 4-point favorite at home with an over/under of 40 points.
The Jaguars are the only one of these teams with a win this preseason. Jacksonville saw a 20-10 4th-quarter lead disappear against the Saints in the exhibition opener, ultimately losing 24-20. However, they managed to bounce back last week when they traveled to Minnesota, knocking off the Vikings 14-10.
The Falcons, meanwhile, got shutout 17-0 in their preseason opener against the Jets. In their defense, Matt Ryan only threw one pass in that game, so they weren’t exactly putting their best foot forward in that game. Ryan got the Falcons off to a good start last week against the Chiefs. But the rest of the Atlanta team didn’t fare so well the rest of the game, with the Chiefs coming back to win 28-14, outscoring the Falcons 18-0 in the second half.
Despite the two losses, the Falcons have slowly shown signs of improvement during the preseason. Rookie receiver Calvin Ridley has started to come alive and started to develop a good rapport with Ryan. This being the third week of the preseason, Ryan and the rest of Atlanta’s starters figure to play at least the first half and perhaps into the 3rd quarter. That should allow the Falcons to improve upon the 14 points they’ve scored over their first two games.
That being said, it’s important to keep in mind that both Julio Jones and Devontae Freeman are being held out for the entire preseason. That means both will be on the sidelines for Saturday’s game, potentially hindering the Atlanta offense. When you factor in the prowess of Jacksonville’s defense, there is no guarantee the Falcons will be in midseason form offensively.
Backing Up the Talk
Jaguars safety Jalen Ramsey went off with his mouth recently, labeling a number of NFL quarterback overrated, including Ryan. He’ll now be forced to back up those words along with the rest of the Jacksonville defense, albeit in a preseason game. To be fair, the Jaguars, at least the starters, haven’t given up much over the first two games. With the starters poised to play most of the game on Saturday, that unit has a chance to continue to back up Ramsey’s words.
Of course, the Jacksonville offense hasn’t been overly impressive during the preseason. The Jaguars allowed six sacks last week against the Vikings, while their second touchdown drive was only two plays for four yards. Even with Blake Bortles and the rest of the offensive starters getting most of the action, the Jaguars could struggle to move the ball consistently.
Keep It Low
The best bet in this game is to take the under. Both teams have seen their defensive starters play well early in the postseason. With Jacksonville’s offense generally unreliable and the Falcons missing both Jones and Freeman, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see both teams held under 20 points. That means the best bet between the Falcons and Jaguars is a total score under 40 points.