Time: 1 p.m. ET
Venue: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Where to watch: FOX
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Jaguars -1
FanDuel: Jaguars -1
BetMGM: Jaguars -1
Caesars: Jaguars -1
December is here. Winter is coming. The final month of the NFL season is upon us. Plenty of playoff races still to be determined. If you haven't channeled your inner Russel Crowe screaming "Are you not entertained?!?" then what exactly are you waiting for? Week 13 has some serious divisional games, starting with Thursday's showdown in Foxboro. Do you have the right ways to play these final few weeks? Especially as the calendar turns to December with Christmas on the horizon? If anything's like November if you've been following our champion handicappers, you know it can be a good time. How about Sean Murphy going 20-10-1 over the last 30 days? Brian Bitler chipped in with a 17-8-1 run over the last month. You know the winning ways are reasonable if you're following bigal.com and getting our champion handicappers' best plays!
Jaguars - Lions preview, analysis and prediction
Jaguars: won 28-27 vs. Ravens
Lions: lost 28-25 vs. Bills (Thanksgiving)
Certainly didn't think that we would be talking about the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Detroit Lions being two of the hottest teams in the NFL. OK, maybe that's a little bit of extreme. Jacksonville isn't the hottest team in the NFL, but they won a game last week which means they are well on the cusp of being a hot team in the NFL. The lions, however, had their three-game winning streak end on Thanksgiving against the Buffalo Bills and are trying to salvage what would be a tremendous season already because of the fact they won three games in a row. The two will meet in Detroit this Sunday.
I'm still trying to get a read on the Jaguars. Because you look at the team from afar and you think that there is so much talent that it can't go wrong and that there should be playoff implications year after year for this team. And I can understand where that mantra would come from, but now with a new coach and Doug Pederson, there is a new era in Jacksonville that has a little bit more fresh air than there was last year under Urban Meyer. Trevor Lawrence completed 29 of 37 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns last week in the come-from-behind 28-27 victory over the Baltimore Ravens last week.
This is the kind of game that we have hoping to expect from Lawrence since he was taking number one overall two years ago. He's closing in on another 3000-yard season, which would make him the first quarterback in Jaguars history to eclipse 3000 yards in his first two seasons. He is constantly trying to get better. This year, the numbers absolutely reflect that with his head coach knowing how to get the best out of his quarterbacks. And while the weapons he may have on the outside aren't the best, they are certainly without a doubt better than what a lot of teams have. Christian Kirk continues to be an absolute steal and is closing in on 1000 yards this year, Marvin Jones continues to be productive as he faces his former team this weekend, and then you have Zay Jones coming off a career-high 11 catches with 145 yards as well as catching the game-winning two-point conversion with 14 seconds left to win the game.
I think this in a nutshell is what we expected from the Jaguars. They're still a ways away from them even being considered contenders in any realm. But I think what we're starting to see here is Lawrence slowly becoming a very serviceable quarterback. In year 2, with this kind of rebuild, it's to be expected. I think we have placed so much heightened expectations on number one overall picks over the last number of years that we find ourselves remembering that these guys coming out of college are still young players. And the important thing that we notice over a year-to-year basis, especially in Jacksonville, is finding that consistent growth. We are definitely seeing that from Lawrence in year 2, hence the lower turnover rate, as well as the high completion percentage, and just overall not blowing too many games.
Detroit would love this kind of consistency, and they are in the same kind of position as Jacksonville is with this slow, steady rebuild. The lions are trying to build from within through Dan Campbell's coaching and that is obviously going to take time. It's a different rebuild with Jacksonville compared to Detroit. Jacksonville is more of you have the talent, go find the right coach that fits that talent. Detroit is more of a culture build, which is why Campbell is the guy. They don't have the talent yet per se to win and be competitive. They have to build from within and they have to establish a culture. That's why Detroit has been able to win three straight games and went toe to toe with one of the best teams in the league on Thanksgiving Day last week.
No you're not going to win every week with Jared Goff passing for just 240 yards and two touchdowns. In a realistic world, you want Goff to be that franchise quarterback. Still don't know if he is going to be that way, but he has nice complementary pieces around him. There's Jamaal Williams, who has ran for 13 touchdowns with five games to go. There is Amon-Ra St. Brown, who is closing in on a 1000-yard season and has had a really good complementary year based off last year. They've been building through the defense with Aidan Hutchinson leading all rookies with 5 1/2 sacks. there are culture guys that Detroit is using to build from within. It's going to take time. And the benefit of reaping the reward of that time is the winner of this game gets to five wins, and there are only two games below .500. That is worth celebrating for either of these teams.
The only thing that concerns me about Detroit is the defense and I'm not entirely sure if it's believable. I think that unit has the potential to be great, but consistency is the problem. Getting Jacksonville in a Dome, where the conditions are controlled, and Lawrence can build off that strong game from last week, I think that was the springboard that the Jaguars needed. Jaguars by 7
Lions are 17-41 ATS after winning 3 of 4 since 1992.
Lions are 7-18 ATS off a 3-point loss at home since 1992.
Jaguars are 0-8 ATS in non-conference games the last 2 seasons.
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