Jags, Jets, Fight for Playoff Spot Thursday
AFC playoff ramifications weigh heavily on this Thursday night matchup between the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets.
Both the 6-8 Jacksonville Jaguars and 7-7 New York Jets are just one game out of an AFC playoff spot with a few weeks left in the season.
This Thursday night encounter will be crucial, as one team will insert themselves right into the postseason mix while the other will likely fall out of it. Here are some factors to watch that will affect how this one plays out.
Jaguars’ offense Tests Jets Defense
This Thursday night matchup will feature a couple of borderline elite units that no one saw coming this year. The Jaguars offense has been one of the best in the league this year through the air and on the ground. The exact same could be said for the Jets defense. Let’s see how each particular matchup should go.
In the passing game, Jacksonville is tenth in the NFL with 240.7 yards per game. They will be facing the fourth-best secondary in the league, as New York allows just 193.9 passing yards per game. Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence has been battling a toe injury for a few weeks now and between this and a very tough matchup, looks likely to have a slow game.
On the ground Jacksonville also ranks tenth-best in the league, averaging 127.2 rushing yards per game. The Jets allow the 11th-least yards on the ground with 111.2 per game.
Not to jump the gun on injuries, but Jets star defensive tackle Quinnen Williams has not practiced or played in a couple weeks now and his absence in this one would severely hamper the Jets’ run stopping ability. Overall, the Jets defense should hold the advantage in the passing game but the Jags offense figures to get plenty of yards when it comes to the rushing game.
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Jets Feeling Injuries
Aside from the previously mentioned Lawrence, the Jaguars don’t seem to have many players of significance on the injury report this week. Lawrence will be questionable all week, but is most likely going to continue playing through his nagging injury.
On the Jets side, starting QB Mike White has been ruled out with a rib injury. Zach Wilson will start in his place. Three additional important starters in Williams, safety Lamarcus Joyner and wide receiver Corey Davis are listed as questionable for the Thursday night game.
On a short week, it will be even harder to get these players ready by game time and this could turn into a legitimate disadvantage for the team.
Jags Riding Momentum
Jacksonville is riding high on momentum lately. Their last five games have all been against playoff-hopeful teams and they’ve come out 3-2. They have won their last two against a tough Tennessee team and a Super-Bowl contending Dallas team and there should be no shortage of confidence in this locker room.
New York was 6-3 before their season began to spiral out of control. The injury bug has begun to hit the team hard, resulting in just one win in their last five (only game against a non-playoff hopeful team). The Jets come in beaten up and not looking very threatening.
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Jags Win, Under Hits
The Jags are only underdogs because they’re the away team and aren’t used to playing in the 34-degree weather like they will Thursday night.
I don’t buy as much into this narrative as others, as these athletes are professionals and know how to play in any climate. Many also change teams often in their careers and have plenty of experience in the cold anyway. There isn’t much of an actual football reason to think the Jets will win this one, take the Jags while they’re hot.
I’m going to directly contradict myself here by saying that I think the cold weather will affect the total points. While I don’t think it will give one team the advantage over the other like many think, I think the real way the cold factors into this one is in limiting offense for both teams.
The Jets’ offense is banged up and the Jags offense has a tough matchup, so this won’t be a high-scoring game anyway. But the cold may turn this one into an all-time snooze fest, so stick with the under.
Prediction: Jaguars +1 over Jets (-110 at BetMGM)
Prediction: Under 38 (-110 at Caesars)
Watch: Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET, Amazon Prime
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