It’s been a December to remember for Blake Bortles and Jimmy Garoppolo, who, surprisingly, are the NFL’s two hottest quarterbacks.
The much-maligned Bortles has averaged 301 yards passing with seven touchdowns and no interceptions during Jacksonville’s three-game winning streak. Garoppolo has averaged 336 yards passing while leading San Francisco to three straight wins.
Something has to give Sunday in the Bay Area, where the Jaguars (10-4) are 4-point favorites over the 49ers (4-10).
Garoppolo has appeared poised and polished since taking over as the San Francisco starter, but he needs more weapons. He’s thrown for only two TDs and two interceptions in the past three games, as the Niners have settled for 15 field goals by Robbie Gould.
Jimmy G will face his toughest test yet against “Sacksonville,” which leads the league in sacks (51) and scoring defense (14.9 points per game).
The Jaguars, second in the NFL in point differential (+11.8), have averaged 35 points in the past three games and are fifth in the NFL in scoring (26.7 ppg). Jacksonville has the league’s top-ranked rushing attack (149.1 yards per game), and rookie running back Leonard Fournette will return to action against San Francisco’s 22nd-ranked run defense (119.1 ypg).
With a win, the Jaguars can clinch the AFC South title. They’re available at a discounted price because of the betting public’s infatuation with Garoppolo. We’ll take advantage of the sale on Jacksonville, which should cover the short number.
Four more plays for Week 16 (home team in CAPS):
Lions (-3) over BENGALS: Detroit is still in the playoff hunt and has won and covered its past two games. Cincinnati appears ready for the offseason after getting whipped 67-14 the past two weeks in losses to the Vikings and Bears, who lost 20-10 to the Lions last week. Detroit is seventh in the league in scoring (25.6 ppg), and the Bengals are 29th (16.6 ppg). The road team has won and covered the past six meetings.
Falcons (+6) over SAINTS: Atlanta still has a shot to win the NFC South and has won the past three meetings, defeating New Orleans 20-17 on Dec. 7 despite three interceptions by Matt Ryan. The Saints have covered only one of their past five games, and the underdog has covered seven of the past eight meetings.
Rams (-6.5) over TITANS: Los Angeles can clinch the NFC West title with a win over Tennessee, which is coming off consecutive losses to the 49ers and Arizona Cardinals. The Rams lead the NFL in point differential (+11.9) and scoring (31.3 ppg). The Titans, who average 21.1 points, won’t be able to keep up with Los Angeles, which whipped the Seahawks 42-7 in Seattle last week.
BEARS (-6.5) over Browns: This is strictly a bet against Cleveland (0-14), which is trying to avoid joining the 2008 Lions as the only teams in NFL history to go 0-16. The Browns are on a 1-29 slide overall and have covered one of their past 10 road games. The Bears are 8-3-1 ATS in their past 12 at Soldier Field.
Last week: 2-2-1 against the spread