NFL Free Pick: Bet the Miami Dolphins or Jacksonville Jaguars? Week #3 Thursday Night Football
NFL PICK (WEEK #3 - THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Wednesday September 23rd, 2020 at 9 a.m. Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
The Dolphins versus Jaguars matchup is not very exciting, so why not spice it up with a little bet?
Prior to the start of the 2020 season, Jacksonville was projected to be the league’s worst team. This week, they are established as 3-point favorites. In other words, we have the opportunity to bet against them, while also getting 3 points! I’m taking that bet.
PICK (4 STARS): MIAMI DOLPHINS +3 AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
I have to admit the Jags have done surprisingly well thus far this year. First, they beat the Colts 27-to-20 before dropping a tight 33-to-30 game in Tennessee.
Now, despite an 0-2 record, the Dolphins were competitive in both of their losses against tough opponents: the Patriots and the Bills.
Let’s now discuss injuries on both sides. Jacksonville will be missing its starting free safety Jarrod Wilson. He missed last week’s game and his backup, undrafted free agent Andrew Wingard, received a fairly poor 51.0 ProFootballFocus grade in Week #2.
Center Brandon Linder left the game against the Titans and he’s unlikely to suit up for a short turnaround on Thursday night. Tyler Shatley will start at the pivot. He entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2014 and has been an average lineman (at best) throughout his career.
The team’s #1 wide receiver, D.J. Chark, is listed as questionable but he appears good to go.
The Dolphins have three notable guys who may miss the game. First, linebacker Shaq Lawson has a 50-50 chance of playing the Thursday nighter.
My main concern about this game revolves around the status of the team’s top two cornerbacks, both of which have pocketed HUGE contracts: Byron Jones and Xavien Howard.
Jones left last week’s game with a groin injury and I don’t believe he’ll be in the lineup. Howard is more likely to play.
If both corners cannot go, the team could be in trouble, even though Gardner Minshew won’t get confused with Aaron Rodgers as a passer. The backups are Nik Needham and rookie Noah Igbinoghene. Needham came into the league last year as an undrafted guy and he received below average marks, according to PFF. In Week #2 against the Bills, he was abysmal.
As for Igbinoghene, he was picked as the #30 overall selection in this year’s draft. He needs more time to develop. PFF tagged him with a fairly poor 54.8 grade in Week #1 before getting an awful 29.3 mark last week.
In summary, the injuries at the cornerback position worry me, but I’m betting Miami purely based on the teams’ relative strength. I think the two teams are of equal strength, with the Dolphins perhaps being slightly better. I simply trust Ryan Fitzpatrick, DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Mike Gesicki and their adequate trio of running backs more than Minshew, Chark, Conley and running back James Robinson.
Therefore, since I believe home-field advantage is worth about 2 points in this special 2020 season, I’m taking the Dolphins +3 points in Jacksonville.
Before wrapping this up, I also want to add that I trust Miami’s coaching a lot more than Jacksonville’s. Brian Flores did a remarkable job in 2019 by leading the team to five wins, despite the team’s attempt to tank in order to land the #1 draft pick.
Meanwhile, Doug Marrone came very close from getting fired at the end of last year. Somehow, he retained his job, but I don’t view him as a top coach in this league.
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Enjoy the game and I’ll be back soon with my full Week #3 picks!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)