Below is a selection and analysis from last year's NFL Season Over/Under Wins Report courtesy of Teddy Covers. Teddy's track record is nothing short of remarkable: 82-35 70% since 2001 including a 28-8 78% mark over the last six years.
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10* Jacksonville Jaguars OVER 6.5 Wins
I’ll get to Blake Bortles. But I’m not going to start with Blake Bortles! I’m going to start with everything else!
The Jaguars were a ‘hot’ team in the betting markets two years ago, thanks to an infusion of young talent after a ‘they’ve bottomed out’ 3-13 campaign in 2014 and 4-12 mark in 2013. But the Jags continued to struggle; finishing 5-11 in 2015. Last year, once again there was heavy pro-Jaguars money throughout the summer months. And again, the Jags underachieved mightily, finishing with a 3-13 mark. As a result of those failures, there’s no strong bandwagon to jump on the Jaguars this year – bettors have been burned before. When I talked to savvy pros about the Jags around Las Vegas this summer, I got plenty of ‘eye rolls’ from bettors who are ‘tired of losing money with that team’. That, folks, is a market inefficiency, plain and simple.
But make no mistake about it. After years of high draft choices and plenty of cap room to nap elite talents in free agency, this roster is loaded! I’ll say it again, even louder: ‘LOADED’. The Jags have a stud running back in #1 pick Leonard Fournette. They’ve got stud wide receivers in Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marquise Lee. They’ve got an offensive line that ranks in the top half of the NFL for the first time this decade, according to Pro Football Focus.
The defensive is loaded as well. They added pass rushing force Calais Campbell, who’s veteran leadership has been “off the charts” according to head coach Doug Marrone, while forcing teams to single team emerging DE Yannick Ngakoue on the other side . Free agent signee AJ Bouye gives them a stud cornerback duo with last year’s #1 pick Jalen Ramsey, on the other side. For a defense that finished #4 in the NFL in yards per play allowed last year – a key ‘advanced metric’ stat, the 2017 Jags defense should be even better.
The offense looks good. The defense looks good. What about the schedule? Last year, the Jags were really up against it, schedule wise, facing a tougher than average slate. This year, the situation is reversed, as the Jags face an ‘easier than average’ slate of opponents. In fact, the Jags face only two teams ALL YEAR who are lined higher than 8.5 wins. And with the likes of the Jets, Browns, Rams and 49ers on the slate, they’ve got plenty of ‘winnable’ games outside of their division. Even as bottom feeders, the Jags won a pair of divisional games in each of the past two seasons.
Here’s the key quote from veteran tight end Mercedes Lewis: “Just talking talent, we might have the most talent that I've ever been around, top to bottom. It's hard for me to stand up here and make predictions -- I really don't like doing that -- but I think coming [into] that first game, we're going to have our best product within the last decade on that field."
I’m well aware that Blake Bortles is the weak link here, a QB with as many turnovers (69) as TD passes in his three year NFL career. But there’s legitimate hope for Bortles this season, throwing behind a solid OL with a strong running game and a bevy of quality receivers to support him. I’m highly confident that Bortles won’t be ranked dead last in QBR among NFL full time starting QB’s this year – he’s paid his dues, primed for a breakout season in his ‘make or break’ fourth year as the starter.
The Jags are also worthy of a wager at 6:1 or higher to win the division.