Tuesday, September 27, 2011

JZN NFL Predictions vs. Spread: New Orleans Saints at Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 4, 2011-12)

The Jacksonville Jaguars are coming home after a difficult two-game road trip. That doesn’t mean that things get any easier though. How will they contain the New Orleans Saints’ passing attack? Can Maurice Jones-Drew run on the Saints’ defense?

The early spread on this game is Saints (-7). Here are some of the key aspects of the game and what to watch out for when betting. All lines from Cooper's Pick and Injury Reports from covers.com as of September 27, 2011. Always keep yourself updated with injury lines because they’ll unexpectedly change throughout the week.

#0: Current Record (Straights Only)
New Orleans Saints 2-1
Jacksonville Jaguars 2-1

#1: Injuries
The Saints have some key injuries heading into this game. They’re still without WR Marques Colston. CB Tracy Porter and LB Jonathan Vilma didn’t play in Week 3 and are still questionable for Week 4. DT Tom Johnson and OT Zac Strief are also questionable. The Saints could really benefit from having Vilma against the Jaguars’ ground game.

The Jaguars don’t have any significant injuries, although they could be without OG Jason Spitz, DE Matt Roth and WR Kassim Osgood.
#2: Quarterbacks
The quarterback duel should feature Drew Brees and Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert’s second professional game goes up against an early-season MVP candidate.

#3: Jacksonville Jaguars’ Defense Underrated?
Albeit giving up 32 points to the New York Jets, the Jaguars have the NFL’s No. 4 defense as they allow 280 yards per game. Don’t forget that Luke McCown had his four-interception day.

They haven’t faced an established offense like the Saints though. While Cam Newton was impressive in his first two weeks, he still isn’t Drew Brees. The Jaguars had great difficulty in passing defense last season.

This will be a major test for their secondary.

#4: Maurice Jones-Drew vs. New Orleans Saints’ Rush Defense
Maurice Jones-Drew is the Jaguars’ offense. Contain him and you beat the Jaguars. The Saints have been serviceable against the run as they’re allowing just over 90 yards per game. 

The Jaguars really to need Gabbert to overcome the blitz, avoid turnovers and have some big passing plays against a vulnerable Saints’ secondary if they’re going to win.

#5: New Orleans Saints’ Defense: Points Allowed
The Saints have allowed 33 or more points in three of their four games since the 2011 NFC wild-card game against the Seattle Seahawks. However, Greg Williams’s high-pressure defense could force Gabbert into mistakes. I think this could be a difficult assignment for Gabbert in only his second game.

Final Predictions:
The Jacksonville Jaguars don’t have enough offensive firepower to keep up with Sean Payton and Drew Brees. You’re playing with fire if you take the Jaguars in any circumstance. They might cover but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Overall, an unfavorable match-up for the Jaguars. Saints by double digits.

Against the Spread: New Orleans Saints (-7)
Straight: New Orleans Saints 26, Jacksonville Jaguars 10

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