New York Jets vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Line: New York -1
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
When: Thursday, 12/22 at 8:15 p.m. ET
TV: Amazon Prime
Jacksonville will try to continue its late-season playoff push when it travels to New York for a primetime showdown on Thursday night.
The Jaguars erased a 27-10 deficit against Dallas on Sunday, eventually picking up a 40-34 win in overtime on a pick-six. They were coming off a 36-22 win over Tennessee in Week 14, which opened the window for a potential division-deciding showdown in Jacksonville in Week 18. DraftKings has Tennessee priced as a -150 favorite to win the AFC South, while the Jaguars are +125.
New York desperately needs a win on Thursday to improve its playoff chances, as the Jets have lost five of their last seven games. They came up short against Detroit in a 20-17 final on Sunday, falling to +400 to make the playoffs at DraftKings.
Oddsmakers opened the Jets as 1.5-point favorites, but the early betting action pushed the line down to a pick ’em at some books Tuesday afternoon. However, as of Tuesday night, most spots had the Jets at -1. Thursday night’s total opened at 42, but it has dipped four points down to 38.
Part of the movement on the total can be attributed to the cold weather expected for this game, while part of it could be due to New York starting Zach Wilson at quarterback. Mike White had started three straight games before suffering a ribs injury that caused him to miss last week’s game, and he’ll be held out again on Thursday.
Wilson threw for 317 yards against Detroit, but he threw a costly third-quarter interception that ultimately led to a game-deciding field goal. New York’s rushing attack never got going either, with Zonovan Knight and Michael Carter combining for 38 yards on 17 carries. Wilson was benched a month ago due to a bad attitude following a 10-3 loss to New England.
He has completed 54.9% of his passes for 1,596 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions this season. Rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson has 67 receptions for a team-high 966 yards and four touchdowns, while wide receiver Corey Davis has 26 catches for 460 yards. The Jets are playing without running back Breece Hall, who suffered a season-ending injury earlier in the year.
Jacksonville is seeking its second consecutive road win and its third straight win overall after erasing a double-digit deficit for the third time in six games. The Jaguars have been underdogs in six straight games, but they have won four of them outright. They stormed back from a 27-10 deficit against Dallas last week, winning the game on a Rayshawn Jenkins pick-six in overtime—he became the first player in NFL history with 18 tackles and two interceptions in the same game.
“That’s a play you dream about ever since you’re eight years old, ever since I started playing this game, to be the guy to make a play like that for us to get that win,” Jenkins said. “That was pretty cool to do.”
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 27 of 42 passes for 318 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He has completed 66.0% of his passes for 3,520 yards, 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions overall this season. Wide receiver Christian Kirk has 73 catches for 966 yards and seven touchdowns, while Zay Jones has 74 receptions for 764 yards and five scores.
Jacksonville has been one of the league’s best offenses, ranked sixth in yards per game (367.9). It is going up against the third-ranked New York defense that is giving up 305.4 yards per contest. The Jaguars have gone ‘over’ the total in four of their last five games, while the Jets have gone ‘under’ in seven of their last nine games.
The pick: New York PK (Circa and South Point)
It is expected to be a cold, rainy evening in East Rutherford on Thursday, which is a major advantage for the hometown Jets. Jacksonville is a warm-weather team that loves to get into shootouts, while the Jets are comfortable playing an ugly game and relying on their defense, which ranks third in the NFL. The Jaguars are now 2-18 in their last 20 road games, so I am not ready to back them even with their current hot streak. I expect Lawrence to struggle more than he has in recent weeks, especially given the weather conditions. New York has covered the spread in five of its last seven games against AFC teams and is in a good spot to pick up a critical win in front of its fans on Thursday.