Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Atlanta Falcons Preview
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta, Georgia
When: Thursday, August 31, 2017 – 7:00 PM ET
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Betting on the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
Head coach Doug Marrone has made his choice and it is the much-maligned Blake Bortles who will start Jacksonville’s season opener against Houston on September 10. That decision wouldn’t come as a total surprise, though, considering Bortles has started the Jaguars’ last 45 games. Bortles’ uneven performances this preseason caused Marrone to open up the quarterback competition but his solid showing in Thursday’s loss to Carolina was enough to give him the Week 1 start.
Bortles responded positively from his demotion in that game, completing 12-of-16 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown. He played seven series in the second half in that ballgame and threw one interception. According to Marrone, Bortles has been very good in practice during the three-day stretch since being renamed the starter on Saturday morning.
That’s bad news for Chad Henne who didn’t make the most of his opportunity against the Panthers. He went 8 of 14 for 73 yards in his start against Carolina. He led Jacksonville to one touchdown and a field goal in five possessions with a lot of conservative throws. Henne was also sacked three times as Jacksonville’s O-line floundered once again. He’ll get another chance to impress when the Jags face the Atlanta Falcons this coming Thursday. A positive performance here and a Bortles stinker against the Texans might be enough for Henne to grab the starting QB position once again.
Betting on the Atlanta Falcons (0-3)
Not even the newly-opened Mercedes Benz Stadium can lift the Atlanta Falcons from their preseason woes. The Falcons crashed to their third consecutive defeat with a 24-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals Saturday night. Matt Ryan looked out of sorts in that game, completing just 4 of 11 passes for 36 yards with a QB rating of 8.1. The Falcons didn’t score with their first-team offense as they managed just 70 total yards against the Cards.
The good news for Atlanta is that Julio Jones was able to get some reps against Arizona. The Falcons All-Pro wide receiver just recently started practicing on a full-time basis after being held out in the offseason and being limited at the start of training camp. He played a few series but had no catches against Arizona. He’s expected to sit out Thursday’s game against Jacksonville. Also sidelined for that showdown is running back Devonta Freeman. He’s still in the later stages of the concussion protocol.
The one thing to watch out for in this ballgame is the right guard battle between Wes Schweitzer and Ben Garland. Quinn said he’ll name the starter after Thursday’s final preseason game. It will be interesting to see who among the two will replace Chris Chester, who retired in the offseason.
The Jaguars (+3.5) edge past the Falcons, 20-17.
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