Vegas Odds & NFL Predictions: Atlanta Falcons at Jacksonville Jaguars (August 25th, 2018)
Jacksonville Hosts Atlanta in Preseason NFL Action
Jacksonville was one of the surprise teams of the season last year in coach Doug Marrone’s debut on the sidelines. The defense which held so much young promise took a huge leap forward leading the way finishing second overall. But it was the play of QB Blake Bortles that really helped put them over the top.
To start last season his job was to manage the game and provide adequate support to that defense. RB Leonard Fournette was drafted highly to carry the offense behind an improving offensive line.
The pieces all came together well as Fournette burst onto the scene, but somewhere along the way Bortles also showed that he was capable of making some tough throws and was therefore given more to work with in the playbook.
It all really came together when they went into Pittsburgh in the playoffs and shocked the Steelers with a 45-42 win in the divisional round. They also almost pulled off the upset over the Patriots before falling 24-20 in the AFC championship game.
In the preseason this year they lost their opener 24-20 to the Saints and beat the Vikings 14-10 last week. The defensive starters held Kirk Cousins and company to three points and three completions in three series. Fournette scored a first-half touchdown and Bortles went 12-20-159-0-1.
Atlanta also features one of the best young defenses in the game. They started to emerge in the second half of the Super Bowl runner up season two years ago and were a top-eight unit last year.
They carried the team for large stretches last year as the offense struggled at times in their first year under the guidance of Steve Sarkisian.
Sarkisian now gets a second season to integrate some new wrinkles into the game plan after essentially being asked to copy what Kyle Shanahan did in the team’s Super Bowl year. They also added another huge talent to the wide receiving corps when they drafted Calvin Ridley in the first round. They already have Mohammed Sanu as a WR 2 and that great running back duo of Davonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
The Falcons lost 17-0 to the Jets in week one of the preseason and 28-14 to the Chiefs last week. Ryan looked great though in limited action last week going 5-7-90-1. Matt Schaub did well with the second unit as well going 7-10-75-1.