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The New Orleans Saints just keep rolling along and this week they roll into Jacksonville to face the Jaguars. The Saints lead the NFC South at 4-1, while the Jags are 2-3. These two teams have not met since 2015 when the Saints won. But things are different now as both teams are being ably led by young backup quarterbacks. Kickoff is Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. The Jaguars are actually a 1.5 point favorite in the early lines.
The New Orleans Saints lost Drew Brees in week 2 to a hand injury, but since then, backup Teddy Bridgewater has won his last 3 starts. And they were not layups. They beat the Seahawks, Cowboys, and the improving Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They lead the NFC South with a record of 4-1, but things don't get any easier as they face another tough test Sunday in Jacksonville. Bridgewater has met every challenge, can he do it again?
Jacksonville Jaguars fans probably thought their season was over when they lost quarterback Nick Foles to injury in the first game of the season. But then rookie Gardner Minshew stepped up and has saved the season. Minshew has been phenomenal, leading the Jags to 2 wins in his 4 starts. But he hasn't faced a team as good as the Saints yet. A win here against New Orleans would be huge for the rookie, but it won't be easy.
Bridgewater has best game versus BucsThe New Orleans Saints lost Drew Brees in week two but have continued right on winning. Backup Teddy Bridgewater took over and led the Saints to victory in his last 3 starts, beating the Seahawks, Cowboys, and the Buccaneers to improve to 4-1. They scored an impressive 31-24 win over the improving Bucs last week. Tampa Bay scored a late touchdown in the final minute to cut it to 7. Bridgewater had his best game as a pro, going 26 for 34 for 314 yards and 4 touchdowns. He needed to step up as the Bucs have one of the best run defenses in the NFL and held the Saints to just 112 yards rushing. The fact that Bridgewater can step up and win games with his arm, and not just be a game manager, is a big plus for the Saints. Michael Thomas was his main target as he caught 11 passes for 182 yards and 2 touchdowns.
"Every morning, I'm able to wake up and put my feet on the ground, I'm able to tie my own shoes, and there was a time in my life that I wasn't able to do that."@Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater is thankful for the win, but more thankful just to be on the field. pic.twitter.com/EjNQoBZFV0— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 6, 2019
"It’s hard in this league to win if you don’t have talent at that position. We did enough good things today around him, guys were making plays outside," coach Sean Payton said of Bridgewater, reported the Saints web site. "Like I said, we blocked him well. It’s a (Tampa defensive) front that’s difficult to run on. I think that we made our attempts and managed to rush for over 100 yards. (We) won that battle. It was encouraging.”
The Saints don't do anything spectacularly well, but they just win, baby. They average 23 points per game, which is 14th in the NFL. They gain an average of 362 total yards per game, which is 21st. That includes 257 ypg in the air, which is 17th, and 104 ypg on the ground, which is 20th in the NFL. Defensively, the Saints give up 23 points per game, which ranks 17th. They allow 364 yards per game, which is 19th in the NFL. That includes 255 ypg in the air, which is 19th, and 108 ypg on the ground, which is 16th in the league.
Minshew leads JagsThe Jacksonville Jaguars lost quarterback Nick Foles to injury in the first game of the season. But rookie Gardner Minshew has been a pleasant surprise, leading the Jags to 2 wins in his 4 starts. They are 2-3 on the year and right in the thick of things in the AFC South division. But they need a win here to keep pace. last week they fell in a very good game with the Panthers. The Jags cut the Panthers lead to 28-27 with about 6 minutes left on a Josh Lambo field goal, but then the Panthers scored a late touchdown to put it away. Minshew was fantastic, going 26 for 44 for 374 yards and 2 touchdowns. DJ Chark had 8 catches for 164 yards and 2 touchdowns while Leonard Fournette had 23 rushes for 108 yards and a touchdown. The problem was, the Jags defense wasn't great.
“We’re better than we played,” Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell said, reported the Jags web site. “We made a lot of mistakes. The positive is we fought. That’s never a question with our team. We’re going to fight. We’re tough. And we had a chance at the end.” Two important players in the secondary, cornerback Jalen Ramsey and safety Ronnie Harrison, are questionable for the Saints game.
The Jags offense has been surprisingly good. They average 22 points per game, which is 17th in the NFL. They gain an average of 408 total yards per game, which is 6th. That includes 270 ypg in the air, which is 12th, and 138 ypg on the ground, which is 8th in the NFL. Defensively, they give up 23 points per game, which ranks 18th. They allow 382 yards per game, which is 24th in the NFL. That includes 245 ypg in the air, which is 18th, and 136 ypg on the ground, which is 25th in the league.
- Jaguars are 1-3-2 ATS in their last 6 games after accumulating more than 250 yards passing in their previous game.
- Jaguars are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games in October.
- Saints are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games in Week 6.
- Saints are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games after scoring more than 30 points in their previous game.
- Saints are 23-8 ATS in their last 31 games following an ATS win.
- Saints are 21-8 ATS in their last 29 road games.
- Saints are 35-16 ATS in their last 51 games in October.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Take the Saints here getting the points. This will be a great game as the Jags have proven they can go toe-to-toe with anyone. But, the Saints have been winning close games all year. They have the talent and the experience to win a close game down the stretch while Minshew and the Jags have not won the close games. They are still learning how to win under Minshew. Also, some key players are banged up on the Jaguars defense, including Ramsey and Harrison in the secondary. Defensive end Lerentee McCray is also questionable. This game will come down to the final few possessions, but look for the Saints to make the plays they need to win -- and cover. The Saints are 4-0 against the spread in their last 4 meetings versus the Jags.
Prediction: Saints +1.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Take the over. The Jags used to be known as a defensive team -- winning games with their defense and scoring just enough to win. That has changed with Minshew slinging the ball, Chark catching it, and Fournette running over the defense. They average more than 22 points per game and they will easily reach that number against a very middling Saints defense. This will be another shoot out with the Saints winning it late. I really like the over here. The over is 18-7 in Saints last 25 games after accumulating more than 350 total yards in their previous game.