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Jags vs. Jets prediction: Bet on Jacksonville to win tossup TNF contest

With red-hot QB Lawrence leading the way, surging Jags will overcome wet weather and upend slumping New York

Over his last four games, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence has passed for 1,186 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Jaguars won three of those contests to improve to 6-8 heading into their Thursday Night Football battle with the Jets. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Over his last four games, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence has passed for 1,186 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Jaguars won three of those contests to improve to 6-8 heading into their Thursday Night Football battle with the Jets. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)Read moreJustin Ford / Getty Images

It was supposed to be the NFL’s pre-Christmas throwaway game, a late-season matchup of two perennial bottom feeders playing out the string. Instead, Jags vs. Jets is a matchup of two squads very much in the playoff conversation — with both needing a victory to remain in that conversation.

Adding to the intrigue for the Week 16 opener: heavy rain and strong winds that are expected to persist from kickoff through the final whistle.

No wonder NFL oddsmakers have made this week’s Thursday Night Football game a tossup — some have Jacksonville the slimmest of favorites, other give the slight nod to New York.

As for which way we’re leaning with our Jags vs. Jets prediction, it’s in the direction of the hotter team with the hotter (and more talented) quarterback.

Odds updated as of 1 p.m. on Dec. 21.

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Jags vs. Jets Prediction

  1. Jaguars +1.5 (at BetMGM)

Jags vs. Jets Prediction: Analysis

Jacksonville has displayed a ton of interstitial fortitude over the past month, rallying to win three of four games — all against teams either already in the playoffs or in the postseason mix.

It started with a 28-27 home win over Baltimore on Nov. 27, with the Jags erasing fourth-quarter deficits of 19-10 and 27-20.

After a 40-14 no-show loss at Detroit the following week, Jacksonville went to Tennessee, spotted the Titans a 14-7 lead, then rolled to a 36-22 victory.

Then came Sunday’s 40-34, walk-off overtime victory over the 10-win Cowboys. In that one, the Jaguars trailed 21-7 at the half, 27-10 late in the third quarter and 34-31 when kicker Riley Patterson drilled a 48-yard field goal on the final play of regulation to force overtime.

Once there, safety Rayshawn Jenkins picked off Dak Prescott’s tipped pass and returned it 52 yards for the winning points.

» READ MORE: Cowboys heavily favored against Eagles in Week 16 following Jalen Hurts’ injury news

After all that, Jacksonville stands at 6-8 (both SU and ATS) and just one game behind the Titans for first place in the AFC South.

While the 3-1 run has been a complete team effort, few would argue that quarterback Trevor Lawrence deserves much of the credit.

Over the four-game stretch, the second-year pro has passed for 1,186 yards — including 318 or more in all three victories — and 11 touchdowns with just one interception and two fumbles.

On the downside, Lawrence lost his most important offensive lineman against Dallas: Left tackle Cam Robinson suffered a season-ending knee injury.

That’s obviously a big deal, given that Robinson was charged with protecting Lawrence’s blind side. Also, the Jets come into Thursday tied for seventh in the NFL with 39 sacks.

However, New York defensive lineman Quinnen Williams — who has nearly one-third of those sacks (11) — is dealing with a calf injury. Williams missed last week’s home game against Detroit and is reported to be a game-time decision for Thursday.

If Williams is hobbled or can’t go, it will put even more pressure on a Jets defense that has been forced to carry the team most of the season. And lately, it hasn’t been enough.

» READ MORE: Super Bowl Odds: Jalen Hurts’ injury doesn’t change Eagles’ position

New York (7-7, 8-6 ATS) has lost five of seven — including the last three in a row — since a surprising 5-2 start.

And after putting up 24-plus points in four of their first six games (all wins), the Jets have topped 20 points just twice in the last eight. They scored 31 in a blowout home win over the lowly Bears and 22 in a loss at Minnesota (but only had four field goals in the first three quarters).

During the 2-5 slump, quarterback Zach Wilson (who was the second player taken in the 2021 draft) was benched in favor of Mike White (who was the 171st player taken in the 2018 draft).

Wilson regained his starting role last week against Detroit, but only because White injured his ribs the previous week. White has been ruled out for Thursday’s contest, so Wilson again will be under center.

That’s a break for a reeling Jaguars’ secondary that has allowed 278.2 passing yards per game and 12 touchdown passes in the last five contests.

Wilson, despite throwing for 317 yards and two TDs against the Lions, is averaging just 199.5 passing yards. And he has as many interceptions (six) as touchdowns.

Another advantage for Jacksonville: the slick conditions at MetLife Stadium.

Obviously, no quarterback likes to deal with wet weather. But we trust Lawrence — whose ball security has improved dramatically the last nine weeks (three interceptions in 319 pass attempts) — to handle it much better than Wilson.

Yes, it’s concerning that Jacksonville has lost 10 fumbles (tied for the third most in the NFL) while the Jets have only lost three (tied for the fewest). But the Jags have the more productive running game, averaging 20 more rushing yards per contest than New York.

That’s key in what figures to be a low-scoring, ball-control game in sloppy weather.

As long as the Jaguars protect the pigskin, we like their chances to eke out a third straight win and send the Jets to a season-crushing fourth straight defeat.

Jags vs. Jets Odds: (via BetMGM)

  1. Point spread: Jaguars (+1.5) @ Jets (-1.5)

  2. Moneyline: Jaguars (+100) @ Jets (-120)

  3. Total: 37.5 points

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