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NFL betting preview: No. 20, Jacksonville Jaguars

Updated August 16, 2019 - 6:37 pm

This is the 13th in a series of 32 NFL team betting previews in 32 days leading up to the league’s Sept. 5 season opener. We’ll count down the teams from the lowest season win total to the highest.

Two seasons ago, the Jaguars and their dominant “Sacksonville” defense were less than 10 minutes from the Super Bowl when they squandered a 10-point lead over the Patriots in the AFC title game.

After the Jaguars struggled to a 5-11 record last season, Las Vegas oddsmakers expect them to finish around the .500 mark this year. Their 2019 season win total is 8, and bookmakers and handicappers are conflicted about Jacksonville’s prospects and how much of an improvement Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles will be over former Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles.

“I’m not big on Jacksonville because they quit on (coach Doug) Marrone last year. He’s under enormous pressure. If he starts slow, they could pull the plug on him by midseason,” Goldsheet.com handicapper Bruce Marshall said. “Maybe having Foles there will help. I think there’s a chance Jacksonville could finish with the worst record in the league.

“But they’re in a division where it’s kind of mysterious how long (Colts QB) Andrew Luck will be out. Houston’s got issues, and I’m not high on Tennessee. If Jacksonville can straighten out things like they did two years ago, they could win their division.”

Foles threw for 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions for the Eagles en route to Pro Bowl honors in 2013. But he has thrown for 41 TDs and 31 interceptions in his other six seasons and struggled in a year each in St. Louis and Kansas City.

“I don’t think Nick Foles is a substantial upgrade over Blake Bortles,” Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “They hope (running back Leonard) Fournette bounces back after only averaging 3.3 yards per carry last season. And looking at their receivers, there isn’t a household name in the bunch.”

The Jaguars, who were 31st in scoring last season with 15.3 points per game, face one of the NFL’s most difficult schedules.

The good news for Jacksonville is that it still features a formidable defense led by defensive ends Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue — who combined for 20 sacks — defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, linebacker Myles Jack and cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye.

The Jaguars finished last season fourth in scoring defense (19.8 ppg) and added pass rusher Josh Allen with the No. 7 overall draft pick.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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