The Jacksonville Jaguars have decided on their starting quarterback for the regular season, so we should see plenty of action from their backups on Thursday against the visiting Atlanta Falcons. Coach Gus Bradley maintains that Chad Henne is still the starter, and Blake Bortles seems fine with that at this point. The Falcons are unlikely to put Matt Ryan on the field for their final preseason game, not to mention their other big name starters. Even with a depleted Falcons squad, oddsmakers at Sportsbook have the Jaguars as +5 point homedogs against the Falcons with the point total set at 39.5. Below is my Atlanta vs Jacksonville preview and all NFL Preseason Odds Week 4 courtesy of Sportsbook.
The Falcons (1-2, 0-1 V) lost to the Tennessee Titans 17-24 last Saturday night. QB Matt Ryan was sharp, spreading his passes around as he completed 18 of 23 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns. Devin Hester was a big part of the offence. Hester caught four passes for 56 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown to end Atlanta’s opening possession. WR Julio Jones broke two tackles on a 52-yard touchdown catch that showed encouraging evidence he has fully recovered from the broken right foot that ended his 2013 season.
The Falcons are counting on Devin Hester to help the receiving corps make up for the retirement of future Hall of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez. Hester has found a home in Atlanta’s three- and four-receiver sets. “I think it’s going to be a nice package for him, putting all four of those guys on the field at the same time,” Ryan said of Hester.
Matt Ryan showed he’s ready for the opener against the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 7 at the Georgia Dome. Ryan seems to know the offense must score at a highly efficient rate as the first-team defense is still under construction.
We’ll know rather quickly about the Falcons’ rebound efforts in 2014. They could be off to a fast start or digging out of a massive hole right out of the gate. Over the first 11 days, they will play three games, with two of them coming against NFC South foes.
Falcons OT Mike Johnson, used as an extra tackle for one play on Atlanta’s opening drive, left with a foot injury and S Dezmen Southward suffered a possible head injury.
The Jaguars (1-2, 1-0 H) lost to the Detroit Lions 12-13 last Friday night. Backup QB Blake Bortles threw for 158 yards and a touchdown. The Jags started Chad Henne, but Bortles was impressive in relief. He completed 10 of 16 passes, including a 13-yard touchdown to Allen Hurns. Henne completed 9 of 14 passes for 70 yards and avoided any major mistakes.
Bortles has outperformed Henne in the preseason, completing 28-of-45 passes for 435 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He’s completed a preseason-best nine passes that gained at least 20 yards. No other quarterback in the league has thrown eight.
Henne has completed 25-of-38 attempts for 230 yards with one touchdown and no picks. The seventh-year veteran has completed two passes of at least 20 yards.
Still, Bortles will try to put a successful capper on his preseason before likely being out of game action indefinitely. “Thursday night I want to go out and continue to get better and improve on some things,” Bortles said. “Finish the preseason off on a good note.”
Recent Trends to Consider:
Falcons are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings.
Under is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings.
Jaguars are 3-12-1 ATS in their last 16 home games.
Jaguars are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 Thursday games.
Falcons are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 Thursday games.
Falcons are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
Atlanta at Jacksonville
When: Thursday August 28@6:00 PM ET
Pick: Falcons -5
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