Atlanta Falcons (0-2, 0-1 Away) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1, 0-1 Home)
NFL: August 25, 2018, TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL, 8:00 PM ET
All eyes will be on Jacksonville Jaguars All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey and former NFL MVP quarterback Matt Ryan when the Atlanta Falcons arrive in Jacksonville on Saturday night for Week 3 preseason action. During an interview with GQ, Ramsey listed several top-tier quarterbacks he found unimpressive.
Ryan, a four-time Pro Bowler, made the “overrated” list.
Can Ryan return to 2016 form?
Ryan wasn’t his record-breaking self when he was lighting up NFL defenses with offensive guru Kyle Shanahan at his side. That 2016 season was nothing short of a masterpiece — minus the heartbreaking Super Bowl LI loss to the New England Patriots.
Some would give most of the credit for Ryan’s success that year to Shanahan’s masterful offensive scheming. After all, it did land him his first head coaching gig with the San Francisco 49ers. It also brought Ryan back down to reality as far as individual stats are concerned. He finished the 2017 season with 4,095 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
The touchdown total was the lowest since his rookie season.
Is the latest version of Ryan the new reality for the Falcons, or will the 33-year-old once again ascend to an elite level without Shanahan on the sidelines? People often forget there were legitimate questions surrounding Ryan’s ability to get the Falcons over the hump before his breakout season.
Ryan was in on a couple drives in last Friday night’s preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs, finishing with five completions for 90 yards and one touchdown. Although the Falcons lost the game, 14-28, there were encouraging signs early on from the first-team defense, along with rookie wideout Calvin Ridley, who had three catches for 49 yards and one touchdown.
Ramsey can back up the trash talk
Make no mistake, Ramsey is more than capable of backing up the trash talk.
The former first-round draft pick out of Florida State University follows a long line of elite corners that enjoys chatting opponents up before locking them down on the field. An argument can be made that Ramsey is already the best player at his position.
His size and length combined with his subtle use of leverage and footwork makes him a nightmare to deal with even for many of the league’s best receivers.
He’d welcome every vengeful pass Ryan throws his way.
As for the Jaguars, they’ll be looking to build on the momentum from a Week 2 preseason win over the Minnesota Vikings. The offense looked shaky at times, particularly quarterback Blake Bortles, but the defense did what they always do: Make the game ugly and force the opposition into making mistakes. They’ll have an opportunity to make a real statement in the preseason if the Falcons start Ryan again.
- Under is 5-1 in last 6 meetings
- Jaguars are 6-5 in last 11 games overall
- Under is 7-0 in Falcons last 7 games
- Falcons are 4-1 ATS in last 5 games on a Saturday
- Under is 4-0 in Falcons last 4 games on the road
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Ramsey might be able to back up the talk, but he won’t have many opportunities to do so on Saturday night.
The Falcons have yet to really let their offensive starters loose, and given Ramsey’s recent comments, Ryan will be licking his chops for a chance to carve up the Jaguars defense. Even if Ramsey isn’t on the field, this one is personal for Ryan.
Prediction: Atlanta Falcons
Full-Game Total Pick
The under has generally ruled in the meetings between these two teams, but that won’t be the case on Saturday, when Falcons head coach Dan Quinn offers a 30-minute preview of his offense. Week 3 is usually the most fun week of the preseason given the tendency for teams to leave their starters in the game.
Taking the over is a wise move here.
Full-Game Prop Bet
A Jaguars offense led by Bortles won’t be a high-scoring team heading into the regular season, and that trait isn’t likely to manifest itself in the preseason, either. The Falcons likely playing their starters for a good chunk of the game should make this bet feel even safer. In only two preseason games so far this year, the Jaguars have yet to score more than 20 points. There’s no reason to expect that will change on Saturday.
Prediction: Jaguars (Under 22)