Jaguars vs. Falcons Betting Picks, Predictions & Odds: How to Play This Inflated Spread
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Matt Ryan, Julio Jones
- Our experts preview the Week 16 NFL matchup between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons.
- This spread is overvaluing one of these two teams. But which is the one you should fade?
- Find betting odds, a pick and Sean Koerner's power ratings outlined below.
Jaguars at Falcons Betting Picks, Predictions & Odds
- Odds: Falcons -7
- Over/Under: 46.5
- Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: FOX
Odds as of Thursday evening and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
The Atlanta Falcons pulled off another surprising upset last week, with a 29-22 win over the 49ers in San Francisco. Now Matt Ryan and Co. are touchdown favorites against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
So where’s the value on this matchup of teams already eliminated from playoff contention?
Our experts preview the biggest mismatch and make their pick on the spread.
Jaguars-Falcons Injury Report
Which team is healthier? Falcons
The Falcons have a lengthy injury report, but most players appear on track to play since they got in limited practices to begin the week. Julio Jones (shoulder) was one of those limited players, but he’s followed a similar protocol the past few weeks.
Gardner Minshew was added onto the Jaguars’ report with a shoulder injury, but was still able to get in limited work. They don’t seem concerned about his injury at the time of writing.
Meanwhile, D.J. Chark (foot) was ruled out in Week 15 but returned to limited practice. That’s a good sign, but I’d still consider him questionable. We’ll have a better idea of his outlook when final reports come out on Friday. — Justin Bailey
Note: Info as of Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.
Austin Hooper vs. Jaguars Defense
The most obvious mismatch on paper is Jones against whoever lines up across from him.
Based on what we saw last week in San Francisco, Matt Ryan should target Jones until the cows come home with Calvin Ridley now out for the season. Jones caught 13 balls for two touchdowns on 20 targets against a banged up 49ers secondary while the other two receivers who saw snaps — Russell Gage and Christian Blake — combined for five catches on seven targets for 27 yards.
But you’d think Jones should get double teams throughout the game without another real receiving threat to worry about on the outside. So assuming the Jaguars defense can focus all of its attention on Jones and contain him (as much as a team can), Hooper could give a Jacksonville defense that’s very poor at linebacker and at safety fits.
Per Football Outsiders, the Jags rank 31st against tight ends and are trending worse. Over the past three games, opposing tight ends have caught 19 balls for 241 yards and two touchdowns against Jacksonville. — Stuckey
Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds
- Projected Spread: Falcons -7.5
- Projected Total: 46.5
I’m in line with this market, so it’s a pass for me. — Sean Koerner
Stuckey: Jaguars +7 or Better
Even with the advantages Jones and Hooper could have against a subpar and beat up Jags defense, there are a few things to like about Jacksonville.
The Jags should be able to apply consistent pressure on Ryan with their two outstanding rushers in Yannick Ngakoue and Josh Allen off the edge and Calais Campbell up the middle. They rank fourth in adjusted sack rate and face a subpar Atlanta offensive line that ranks in the top 10 in most hurries, pressures, quarterback hits and sacks allowed.
Out of 35 quarterbacks who have taken at least 200 snaps this season, only four have been under pressure on at least 40% of snaps: Daniel Jones, Sam Darnold and Ryan.
A lot of that pressure comes from the right side, where tackle Kaleb McGary has struggled as a rookie. Per Pro Football Focus, of the 62 tackles with at least 500 snaps this season, McGary grades 55th.
The Jaguars also have the more reliable punter and kicker, both of whom were named alternates to the Pro Bowl. Logan Cooke leads the NFL in net punting while Josh Lambo has been almost automatic at 28-for-29, including 9-for-10 from beyond 40. Atlanta, meanwhile, ranks 30th in net punting and has used four punters in addition to two field goal kickers.
That special teams edge could end up getting the Jags inside what I think is an inflated number as a result of Atlanta’s upset of San Fran.
That win is the primary reason I’m fading the Falcons. This is my favorite situational spot of Week 16 as they’ve consistently flopped in this spot. Not only could they potentially come out flat at home — where they haven’t been great — but there’s also a high-risk of being underprepared against an AFC opponent once again.
Dan Quinn is just 4-16 against the spread against AFC teams, including 14 (!) straight non-covers. Yes, he’s 0-14 in his past 14 meetings against AFC opponents. And in those games, he’s gone just 3-11 straight up.
Also, if you’re into trends, Quinn has been horrible as a favorite at 17-31 ATS (35.4%). Only Mike Shanahan has been less profitable as a favorite among 120 coaches in our BetLabs database since 2003.
Stuckey is 312-251-8 (55.4%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.