2021 Betting Preview: Jacksonville Jaguars

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2021 Betting Preview: Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars arguably had one of the most productive seasons of any franchise in the league in 2020. They won their first game of the season before proceeding to lose their final 15 games (8-8 ATS) to finish with the league’s worst record (+200) after opening the season as the favorites to land the top overall pick. The Jags needed some help from the Jets at the end of the season, but Jacksonville landed Trevor Lawrence in the end, who was the most coveted quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck in 2012. The Jaguars missed the playoffs (-1400) for the third straight year, and the franchise has just one playoff appearance in their last 13 seasons in 2017.

The Jaguars allowed the second-most points per game (30.8) and they scored the third-fewest points per game (19.1), which resulted in a 9-7 mark toward unders last season. Jacksonville finished with a 1-6 record in one-score games and with an 0-6 mark in games decided by three scores or more, which resulted in the second-worst point differential (-186) in the league.

Jacksonville’s 2021 win total (6.5) climbed by a victory after landing Lawrence in the draft and beefing up its defense in free agency. The Jaguars fell 4.5 wins shy of their 2020 win total and they locked in their under with their 11th loss of the season to the Vikings in Week 13. Entering this season, I have the Jaguars power rated as the 29th-best team in the NFL (+10000 to win Super Bowl LVI), as the 14th-best team in the AFC (+4000 to win the conference), and as the third-best team in the AFC South (+700).

2021 Schedule

Spreads are first-look lines from the SuperBook, which were released in early June.

WeekOpponentSpreadTime
1@Houston Texans-31
2Denver Broncos+1.51
3Arizona Cardinals+2.51
4@Cincinnati Bengals+2.58:20 (Thurs)
5Tennessee Titans+2.51
6Miami Dolphins (London)+1.59:30
7Bye
8@Seattle Seahawks+74:05
9Buffalo Bills+6.51
10@Indianapolis Colts+7.51
11San Francisco 49ers+41
12Atlanta FalconsPK1
13@Los Angeles Rams+9.54:25
14@Tennessee Titans+61
15Houston Texans-41
16@New York Jets+1.51
17@New England Patriots+5.51
18Indianapolis Colts+31

The Good

The Jaguars will face the eighth-easiest schedule this season based on 2021 win totals (per Sharp Football) thanks to a pair of matchups with the Texans and additional matchups with the Jets and Bengals. The Trevor Lawrence era has a chance to get off on the right foot in the first month of the season with matchups against the Texans, Broncos, Cardinals, and Bengals to open the year. He’ll navigate just one primetime against the Bengals on TNF in Week 4, and they have just one game against an opponent coming off a bye against the Titans in Week 14. The Jaguars also have two games against teams coming off Monday night contests against the Seahawks in Week 8 and the 49ers in Week 11.

The Bad

The Jaguars are back to playing in London after they stayed stateside last year during the pandemic. They’ll square off with the Dolphins in London in Week 6, which is in the midst of a brutal stretch of games in Weeks 5-11. They play six straight games against teams lined at 9+ wins entering the season in the Titans, Dolphins, Seahawks, Bills, Colts, and 49ers. Jacksonville will need to take advantage of an easy opening slate before it gets into the meat of their schedule starting in Week 5.

Key Off-season Moves

AdditionsDraftDepartures
C.J. Beathard (QB)Trevor Lawrence (QB)Chris Thompson (RB)
Carlos Hyde (RB)Travis Etienne (RB)Keelan Cole (WR, NYJ)
Marvin Jones (WR)Tyson Campbell (CB)Chris Conley (WR, Hou)
Jamal Agnew (KR/PR)Walker Little (OT)Dede Westbrook (WR)
Phillip Dorsett (WR)Andre Cisco (S)Tyler Eifert (TE)
Jihad Ward (DE)Jay Tufele (DT)Josh Oliver (TE, Bal)
Malcolm Brown (DT)Jordan Smith (DE)Kamalei Correa (LB, KC)
Roy Robertson-Harris (DT)D.J. Hayden (CB)
Shaq Griffin (CB)Al Woods (DT, Sea)
Rayshawn Jenkins (S)
Chris Manhertz (TE)
Jonathan Ford (S)
Damien Wilson (OLB)

2021 Season Odds

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Team FuturesOdds
Season Win Total (O/U)6.5 (-110/-110)
AFC South+700
Playoffs (Y/N)+340/-455
AFC Championship+5000
Super Bowl+10000

Season Prop Movement

  • Win Total: 6.5 (-110) in late March to 6.5 (-110)

  • Super Bowl: +8000 in early February to +10000

Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total

The Jaguars made the biggest quarterback upgrade this off-season going from Gardner Minshew to Trevor Lawrence, and it’s no wonder there’s more optimism surrounding the Jaguars than at any other point in the franchise’s history. The Jaguars masterfully threw away the 2020 season to land Lawrence, and he has the potential to be a franchise quarterback for at least the next decade. It’s hard not to come to that conclusion after he racked up a 34-2 career record with a national title as a starter at Clemson. Lawrence has all the traits to be one of the league’s next great quarterbacks with his size, athleticism, and arm strength.

Urban Meyer came out of retirement and made the jump to the NFL to work with Lawrence, and he’s going to have a strong initial cast to work with between D.J. Chark, Marvin Jones, Laviska Shenault, and his college teammate Travis Etienne. They’ll also have continuity up front with their entire offensive line returning for 2021, which is a nice bonus for last year’s surprised Rookie of the Year candidate, James Robinson. Meyer owns a ridiculous .854 winning percentage (187-32) over four stops at the FBS level, and he’s assembled enough offensive talent to have success right out of the gates.

Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total

Meyer and GM Trent Baalke had a relatively disappointing first off-season in charge of the Jaguars. They failed to make a big splash in free agency despite owning the most cap space heading into the start of the new NFL season. They primarily focused on improving their defense by signing CB Shaquill Griffin, S Rayshawn Jenkins, DT Roy Robertson-Harris, and DT Malcom Brown. They also made some head-scratching overpays for TE Chris Manhertz, RB Carlos Hyde, and returner Jamal Agnew. I’m even a big fan of the perpetually underrated Jones but he’s a bit redundant in this offense as he shares an eerily similar body type and skill set to Chark — differentiating between Jones’ #11 and Chark’s #17 is going to be a nightmare!

Overall, the Jaguars Meyer, Baalke, and Lawrence have their sights set on contending in the near future instead of trying to build a winner in Year One. The Jaguars have finished under their win total in three straight seasons since reaching the AFC Championship during the 2017 season, and this roster still has major development to do, especially on defense. First-round pass rushers Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson combined for just 3.5 sacks last season in a combined 24 games. They’ve also totally reshaped their secondary by signing Jenkins and Griffin and selecting CB Tyson Campbell and S Andre Cisco on Day Two of the draft. The Jaguars have the talent assembled to make a significant leap this season, but a six-win improvement to get over their win total could be a lot to put on Lawrence’s plate in Year One.

Notable Player Props

Trevor Lawrence: passing yards (4050.5), passing TDs (25.5), OROY (+300), MVP (+8000)

Fantasy Points Projection: passing yards (3985), passing TDs (24)

  • Best-Case Scenario: Four rookie QBs have cleared 4000+ passing yards and three of those players were selected first overall in the last decade (Jameis Winston, Andrew Luck, and Cam Newton) with Justin Herbert being the other player to do it. Lawrence becomes the fifth player to do it thanks to the pass-heavy situations he consistently finds himself in.

  • Worst-Case-Scenario: Urban Meyer has never coached at the NFL level and he’s been out of coaching the last three years and it shows in Year One as his offense doesn’t fire on all cylinders right out of the gates despite a talented cast.

Travis Etienne: rushing yards (650.5), receptions (44.5), OROY (+2000)

Fantasy Points Projection: rushing yards (685), receptions (45)

  • Best-Case Scenario: Etienne is the most talented back in Jacksonville and he emerges as a three-down back over James Robinson and Carlos Hyde. Urban Meyer also deploys one of the more run-heavy schemes in neutral game scripts.
  • Worst-Case-Scenario: Etienne is used mostly as a receiver after hints that it may happen after the draft. The presence of Robinson and Hyde also makes it difficult for him to see enough volume right out of the gates.

James Robinson: rushing yards (670.5)

Fantasy Points Projection: rushing yards (845)

  • Best-Case Scenario: Robinson is no longer a bell-cow back but he holds off Travis Etienne and Carlos Hyde to lead the Jaguars carries and yards for the second straight year.
  • Worst-Case-Scenario: Urban Meyer’s talk that Etienne will be used as an offensive weapon turns out to be B.S., and the first-round pick pushes J-Rob into a secondary role in this backfield.

D.J. Chark: receiving yards (905.5), receptions (65.5), receiving TDs (5.5)

Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (955), receptions (68), receiving TDs (6.5)

  • Best-Case Scenario: Chark proves that his breakout 2019 campaign was no fluke as he re-establishes himself as one of the better young receivers in the game, and his play lands him a fat new contract in the off-season.

  • Worst-Case-Scenario: Chark finds himself in a weekly battle to lead the team in targets with Marvin Jones and Laviska Shenault co-headlining this passing attack and Trevor Lawrence spreading the rock around most weeks.

Laviska Shenault: receptions (60.5)

Fantasy Points Projection: receptions (63)

  • Best-Case Scenario: Shenault competes with D.J. Chark for the team lead in targets, and Urban Meyer and Darrell Bevell get the rock into his hands in a number of creative ways to maximize his after-the-catch ability.

  • Worst-Case-Scenario: Shenault falls behind Chark and Marvin Jones in the passing attack, and he’s used more like a gadget player and consistent weekly usage is hard to come by.

Marvin Jones: receiving yards (825.5)

Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (715)

  • Best-Case Scenario: Jones just keeps rolling along posting steady production even in a new offense. He excels as the 1B to D.J. Chark and he finishes right around his 60/850 receiving average from the last six seasons.
  • Worst-Case-Scenario: It takes Jones some time to adjust to rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence and he takes a step back in his age-31 season while D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault keep ascending.

Brolley’s Bets

Best Bets

Jacksonville Jaguars to win the AFC South (+1000, PointsBet). Risk .5 units to win five units. — The Jaguars are probably still a year away from having a good enough defense to legitimately compete for a division title and a playoff spot, but their offense has the potential to be an above-average group and they can keep them competitive right out of the gates with Trevor Lawrence and Urban Meyer. I cashed a ticket on the Titans to win the AFC South last year and I once again think they’re favorites to repeat this year — despite the books having the Colts installed as favorites again — but I just can’t pass on these long-shot odds on the Jaguars to win the division. The AFC South is by far the weakest division in the conference and it’s arguably the weakest group in the entire league, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a team like the Jaguars wins the division from off the pack with a 9-8 record. The Titans have one the league’s most top-heavy roster constructions so they could be in trouble with a couple of injuries while the Colts have Carson Wentz taking over at quarterback and he was a complete disaster in Philadelphia last season. The only thing Lawrence and Meyer have ever done is win and I’m not going to bet against them having some sort of success early in their NFL tenures.

Leans

Jacksonville Jaguars over 6.5 wins (+105, FOXBet) — See above.

Marvin Jones under 825.5 receiving yards (-115, DraftKings) — I’ve been a huge fan of Jones the last few years at his depressed ADP, and I’m going to have quite a few shares of him in best ball leagues with his price falling once again despite exceeding expectations every year. With that said, he has more factors working against him to exceed expectations this season than he’s had in recent seasons with the Lions. He’s moving to a new team with a rookie quarterback and first-time NFL coach, and he’ll also have to go through two viable WRs in D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault to get enough targets to top his yardage total. I’m also at least a little bit worried he could start to show his age a bit at 31 years old. I’d have this line more in the 750-to-775 yard range but it’s not enough of a buffer for me to wager on it.

Tom is a Senior Writer at Fantasy Points who specializes in fantasy and betting analysis. He’ll be helping you to navigate the waiver wire and manage your fantasy teams while also keeping our betting content robust all year long, especially during the season. Tom's Best Bets against the spread won at 61.5% clip in 2019 and he was a perfect 8-0 on his Best Bets for season win totals in 2020.