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The Jacksonville Jaguars head on up to North Carolina to face the Panthers in Week 6.
It’s not the quarterback matchup that we would have imagined a month ago, but maybe it’s the quarterback matchup that we all deserve. Gardner Minshew and the Jags are coming in as 3.5-point road dogs to Kyle Allen and the Panthers at Bovada Sportsbook.
Minshew has helped lead the Jaguars to two straight wins, getting the team back to even at .500. But with Newton down, Allen hasn’t been sleeping for Carolina either, leading the Panthers to a 38-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals and a 16-10 win over the Houston Texans after Newton dropped one 14-20 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Gardner Minshew looked good against the Broncos in hostile territory. He only put up 213 yards, but he dropped in two passes for touchdowns and managed to go the entire game without throwing a pick. But the balance is what is truly amazing. Leonard Fournette touched the ball 29 times and put up 225 yards! In the previous week’s game against the Titans, who have a stellar defense, Minshew again threw for 200+ yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
But this game has much more lying below. It’s more than two young QBs squaring off. Leonard Fournette has found a head of steam and Christian McCaffrey is making a case for the best RB in the NFL. McCaffrey can do it all: run it, catch flat passes in the backfield or run routes. Heck, he can even pass the ball out of the wildcat. Both teams have solid offensive lines to help their backs pound out the yards on the ground. But the Jags have a better defense. Right now they are really playing well on the road, holding home-team offenses to just 13 points per game. Can McCaffrey find enough running room against the tough Jacksonville road D?
On the offensive side of the ball, the Panthers hold the advantage. Overall, Carolina is putting up 26 points per game, but at home they play slightly worse, scoring just 20.5 on average. The Jags are totaling 19.3 per game overall, but just 12 on the road. So, what will win-out, the superior Jacksonville defense, or more powerful Carolina offense?
It’s going to be a cat-fight. One thing to note is the Jacksonville Jaguars’ perseverance and resilience. They were trailing 17-3 in Denver, but never abandoned their game plan and it paid off. They stuck with stuffing Fournette down Fangio’s throat and it opened doors to passing touchdowns. Carolina is No. 23 against the run, so they may stick to that plan once more. Coach Doug Marrone wasn’t even trying to hide the fact that he was going to hit them in the gut. He added Cedric Ogbuehi as a tight end to have another 300+ pound blocker on the line of scrimmage. They ended up manhandling the Denver defensive front.
Will the Panthers’ big-uglies be able to hang with that kind of abuse for four quarters? I’m not sure. We could end up seeing a similar situation, where JAX trails early but keeps hitting Carolina with body shots until they wear out in the 3rd and 4th quarter.
One thing is sure, at +3.5 I love Jacksonville to cover the spread! Even if Carolina wins at home, it won’t be by more than a field goal.