NFL prediction on the Jaguars at Titans, Thursday, 8:20 p.m. at Nissan Stadium, Nashville:
The Prospects are bleak for a big offensive performance Thursday night from the Jaguars on the road against the Titans.
Jacksonville (4-8) currently ranks as the fourth-worst “drive point” offense in the NFL. That’s a VSiN exclusive stat that tabulates points scored or allowed on drives of 60 yards or more. Just 9.8 drive points per game this season for the Jags’ offense. Tennessee (6-6) ranks third-best on defense, allowing just 11.0 drive points per game. (VSiN’s free daily emails run the full NFL offensive and defensive numbers every Wednesday — sign up at VSiN.com.)
So, we start with an offense that struggles to drive the field for points facing a stingy defense that denies long drives. Then, we throw in the fact that Jacksonville is experimenting with promoted quarterback Cody Kessler, who may not be any better than prior starter Blake Bortles. And, Kessler has a short preparation week for his first road start as a Jag.
Last week in Kessler’s Jacksonville starting debut, the Jaguars didn’t score a touchdown in a 6-0 home win over the Colts. The first time the Jags played Tennessee — back in Week 3 with Bortles —they couldn’t score a touchdown in a 9-6 home loss.
There are many similarities in those two games beyond six points on the hometown scoreboard. With Bortles, the Jags gained 232 yards on 4.1 yards-per-play versus the Titans. With Kessler, they had 211 yards on 3.9 YPP versus the Colts. The team passing line with Bortles was 21-34-0-145 (dinks and dunks), 18-24-0-132 with Kessler (same).
Bortles was benched because he was performing too much like a backup deep into what was supposed to be another playoff season. Is Kessler the answer, or just another anvil?
It’s worth noting that betting markets are more positive on Jacksonville’s overall outlook this week. Last Sunday’s line of +4 at home versus Indianapolis looks pretty insane in retrospect. Thursday’s line should close around +4 on the road at Tennessee. If you assume three points for home-field advantage, “the market” was saying the Jags were seven points worse than the Colts on a neutral field, and now are just one point worse than the Titans on a neutral field.
Using VSiN’S estimated “market” Power Ratings scale, last week’s point spreads suggested this for the AFC South: Houston 82, Indianapolis 81, Tennessee 79, Jacksonville (with Kessler) 74.
This week, it’s looking more like: Houston 82, Indianapolis 80, Tennessee 79, Jacksonville (with Kessler) 78.
Jonathan Von Tobel of VSiN’s “Betting Across America” and I will finalize the full league over the weekend. Look for the complete NFL rundown either here Sunday, or in our new “online exclusive” VSiNtelligence reports that are running seven days a week at nypost.com.
Has the market followed one overreaction (Jags in the tank) with another (Jags will be fine)? Kessler would prove himself a deserving starter if he can consistently find the end zone in this road challenge.