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NFL Week 14 Best Bets & Predictions – Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night – 12/6/2018

NFLWeek14

  • When: Thursday, December 6, 2018 @ 8:20 pm EST
  • Where: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
  • (Betting odds from Sportsbetting AG and current as of 12/3 at 6 pm)
TeamPoint SpreadMoneylineTotal (over-under)
Jacksonville Jaguars+ 4.5  -110+ 190Ov 37.5 -105
Tennessee Titans– 4.5  -110– 220Un 37.5 -115

This season, I’ve been writing 3-4 articles per week sharing my picks and predictions. I cover the Thursday night, Sunday night, and Monday night NFL matchups each week as well as a Pick(s) of the Week column in which I share my full slate of bets for the week.

Make sure to get the most favorable odds at the best NFL betting sites to maximize your chances of winning and returns. Thus far, through the first thirteen weeks of the 2018 NFL season, these are my results:

  • Overall Record: 120 – 111 – 3 (11 NFL futures bets pending)
  • Winning Percentage: 51.9%
  • Total Profit: $218.82
  • Total Return: 1%

 

Kicking off Week 14 of the 2018 NFL season this Thursday night will be two AFC South teams coming off of much-needed wins. Jacksonville, who will be traveling to Nashville to take on the Titans, pulled a defensive masterpiece – seemingly out of thin air – to shut down the Colts 6-0, ending a seven-game losing streak. Meanwhile, Tennessee ended a two-game skid of their own with a last-minute TD pass to Corey Davis, that put away the NY Jets by a score of 26-22.

For the Titans, this Thursday’s matchup presents a chance to stay in the Wild Card playoff race. Currently, they’re only a game behind the Baltimore Ravens for the second spot, with the first firmly within the grasps of the Los Angeles Chargers. A loss here, however, would make a playoff berth fairly unlikely, especially if the Steelers, Ravens, and Colts win this week.

This season, I’m not sure the Jaguars know what hit them; I know I sure don’t. A dominant force just a year ago, this year’s Jacksonville squad has disappointed all year and now sits at 4-8-0, in last place in the AFC South standings. Nevertheless, after a monumental collapse that resulted in seven consecutive losses, the stingy defense of old appeared to have made a return.

The Jaguars’ thorough dismantling of the Indianapolis Colts’ previously unstoppable offense is what makes this Thursday’s contest so interesting. Will Marcus Mariota find more success moving the ball and scoring on Jacksonville than Andrew Luck in Week 13? Can the Jags defense continue playing at such a high level, or was last week nothing more than a fluke?

These are the questions at the heart of our Week 14 Thursday night picks. But first, a recap of last week’s wagers and what’s going on around the NFL.

Slow and Steady – Week 13 Review

Week 13 couldn’t have started any sweeter. After months of agonizing over Thursday night games only to see the opposite happening – no matter how improbable it may be – time and time again, I finally nailed one. But I didn’t just predict any old Thursday night football game, I called the Dallas Cowboys upsetting the top-ranked New Orleans Saints.

In last Thursday’s article, I admitted that I was making this decision off nothing more than a gut feeling, but I it was the correct choice nonetheless. I only wish I had the cajones to have taken them moneyline rather than grabbing the points. Between taking the 7.5 and lowering my staking amount, the bankroll didn’t really benefit from the Saints loss much, but at this point a moral victory is good enough for me.

Week 13 Results

The rest of the week followed a similar trend. Overall things went well, just not by much. Like the past few weekends, I increased the bankroll by less than $100, extending the current total profit to roughly $218.

In the table below, I’ve listed all of Week 13’s picks, the amounts wagered, the odds, and the total payouts for each of the winners. The winning lines are highlighted in green. The total staked and returned are at the bottom.

PickType of BetResultStakeOddsPayout ($)
Cowboys +7.5Spread10-13$ 65.00-114122.02
Cowboys-Saints Under 52.5Over-Under/Total23 (under)$ 100.00-110190.91
Colts -4Spread0-6$ 100.00 -113 
Jags-Colts Under 47Over-Under/Total6 (under)$ 75.00-115140.22
Brown +6Spread13-29$ 75.00 -117 
Browns-Texans Over 47Over-Under/Total42 (under)$ 100.00 -110 
Chiefs -15Spread40-33$ 100.00 +103 
Chiefs-Raiders Over 55.5Over-Under/Total73 (over)$ 60.00-104117.69
Patriots -5Spread10-24$ 100.00-112189.29
Patriots-Vikings Over 49.5Over-Under/Total34 (under)$ 80.00 -115 
Cardinals +14Spread20-17$ 55.00-117102.01
Rams-Lions Over 55Over-Under/Total46 (under)$ 75.00 -110 
Bengals MLMoneyline24-10$ 40.00 +194 
Bengals-Broncos Over 45Over-Under/Total34 (under)$ 70.00 -107 
Seahawks -10Spread16-43$ 90.00+105184.50
Seahawks-49ers Over 46Over-Under/Total59 (over)$ 65.00-110124.09
Ravens-Falcons Under 48Over-Under/Total42 (under)$ 85.00-108163.70
Ravens +1.5Spread26-16$ 90.00-104176.54
Jets MLMoneyline22-26$ 30.00 +310 
Chargers +3.5Spread33-30$ 60.00-120110.00
Chargers MLMoneyline33-30$ 40.00+155102.00
Charger-Steelers Under 51.5Over-Under/Total63 (over)$ 110.00-110 
Redskins +6Spread $ 100.00+100 
Redskins-Eagles Under 45.5Over-Under/Total $ 110.00-110210.00
Totals  $1,875.00 $1,932.97

Back in August, I would have told you that by Week 13 my profits would be substantially higher than this; although it’s really just a matter of perspective. Sure, I’m disappointed in my current returns, but that’s over three months of betting almost every NFL game weekly without ever going into the red.

We typically only focus on the numbers and the easily digestible results when following a journey such as this one. However, I’d argue that making a couple of hundred dollars while enjoying the thrill of having action on just about every game each week is a win in itself. That’s hundreds of hours of entertainment that not only costs nothing but is even earning a little cash thus far!

The Packers Dump Mike McCarthy

Getting back to last week, one of my favorite bets from Sunday was the Cardinals getting 14 on the road in Green Bay. Nothing we’ve seen from the Packer recently made me think they could cover two touchdowns, but even I didn’t think they’d outright lose!

After the three-point defeat, Green Bay finally fired Mike McCarthy. For weeks we’ve heard about friction between the head coach and Aaron Rodgers, and lots of play calls and late-game decisions have come under heat in the media this year. Losing at home as a fourteen-point favorite was apparently the last straw.

While I’ve been an advocate for McCarthy’s firing for several weeks now, I’m not entirely sure I was right. I’m not saying this to be a contrarian; it’s just that a recent SI article brought something to light I hadn’t considered.

One of my main gripes about the Packers has been about playcalling, but according to Kalyn Kahler in the linked article, “[Rodgers changes plays] so often that it can be hard for McCarthy to get into a rhythm as the play caller.”

She added, “ McCarthy might call the same play three times in a game, without the play actually being run as he called it. And if McCarthy calls a play that Rodgers doesn’t like early in the game, that can sour the mood for the rest of the game.”

In a Green Bay loss several weeks ago, I complained about Rodgers ignoring easy check down passes in exchange for continuous low-probability shots downfield. Now it sounds as if the veteran QB has just been calling his own number ever snap and telling his receivers to go deep, regardless of what’s called in through his headset.

Another unnamed source – either a coach or NFL front office employee – told Benjamin Allbright, “Yeah, it was probably time, but to put it all on Mike is unfair. Rodgers hasn’t been the same since the injuries…”

I look forward to seeing how things change now with Joe Philbin acting as interim head coach. If we see a lot more of Aaron Rodgers scrambling around behind his line until he has time to uncork a deep bomb, despite the situation or open underneath options, McCarthy is going to have a lot of “I told you so’s” to hand out.

Gambling Stats for Thursday Night’s Game

Sometimes you can find data to help with your handicapping that may not directly focus on the action on the field. Looking at how a team has traditionally performed against the spread can be worth analyzing as well. You can even take these meta stats further, looking for patterns in performances following losses, at home, and as favorites or underdogs. I was able to find these statistics at TeamRankings.com.

Tennessee Titans

  • Tennessee is 6-6-0 against the spread, covering 50% of the time.
  • At home, they’re 3-2-0 against the spread, covering 60% of the time.
  • As a home favorite, they’re 0-1-0 against the spread, covering 0% of the time.
  • Following a win, Tennessee is 3-2-0 against the spread, covering 60% of the time.
  • Against AFC South rivals, the Titans are 2-2-0 against the spread, covering 50% of the time.
  • Tennessee is 5-7-0 (41.7%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
  • Following a win, the Titans are 1-4-0 (20%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
  • As a home favorite, Tennessee is 1-0-0 (100%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
  • Against AFC South rivals, the Titans are 1-3-0 (25%) at covering the totals/over-under line.

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Jacksonville is 9-2-0 against the spread, covering 81.8% of the time.
  • On the road they’re 5-0-0 against the spread, covering 100% of the time.
  • As a road underdog, they’re 3-0-0 against the spread, covering 100% of the time.
  • Following a win, Jacksonville is 1-2-0 against the spread, covering 33.3% of the time.
  • Against AFC South rivals, the Jaguars are 1-2-1 against the spread, covering 33.3% of the time.
  • Jacksonville is 5-7-0 (41.7%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
  • Following a win, the Jaguars are 1-2-0 (33.3%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
  • As a road dog, Jacksonville is 1-1-0 (50%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
  • Against AFC South rivals, the Jaguars are 1-3-0 (25%) at covering the totals/over-under line.

Away – Jacksonville Jaguars (+4.5)

What on earth are we supposed to make of the Jacksonville Jaguars now?  Heading into Week 13, the Indianapolis Colts were becoming one of the most talked about teams in the NFL. After a painfully long rehab process, Andrew Luck is finally himself again.

Before facing the Jaguars defense, he had thrown three-or-more touchdowns in eight straight showings. Frank Reich’s scheme was especially targeted in the praise, as he was able to keep Luck from getting so much as hit for several games in a row.

Then Jacksonville’s defense showed up looking like the group from 2017 and shut that all down. The Jaguars’ secondary put the clamps on the Colts’ outside receivers, and the pass rush kept Luck under heat all day. The star quarterback was hit nine times and sacked another three.

Without Leonard Fournette, the Jags went ultra-conservative on offense. Cody Kessler was able to successfully play the “game manager” role, throwing 24 passes for only 150 yards and zero TDs. Jacksonville’s only points came from two field goals, but their impenetrable defense ensured six points was plenty to get the “W.”

Fournette will be back to play against Tennessee. While the second-year running back is an explosive talent, he’ll have his work cut out for him this week. The Titans run defense has faltered in recent weeks, but the Jaguars are missing the entire left side of their starting offensive line, including their center. Coupled with Cody Kessler playing QB, and you have to imagine the former LSU RB will be dealing with a stacked box almost every snap.

I don’t see how this Jacksonville side can confidently expect more than 7-10 points this week, meaning their defense will need to be stellar once again. On paper, this Titans offense should be easier to stop than the Colts, but the NFL rarely works that way. The deciding factor may very well be the Jags’ ability to contain the QB run.

Injury Designations:

Most of the significant players being missed by Jacksonville are already on the IR and done for the season. This week, their injury report is relatively clean. Both Jalen Ramsey and Calais Campbell are expected to suit up despite being listed as “questionable,” which is enormous. Ramsey will be responsible for covering Corey Davis this week, while Campbell is an instrumental piece of the defensive line coming off of an excellent game versus Indy.

Questionable

  • WR – DJ Chark Jr. (quadriceps)
  • CB – Jalen Ramsey (knee)
  • DE – Calais Campbell (ankle)

Home – Tennessee Titans (-4.5)

Last week, the Tennessee Titans were staring a three-game losing streak right in the mouth. Playing the New York Jets, the AFC South squad were fortunate to receive some last minute heroics from Marcus Mariota and Corey Davis. The pair connected on an 11-yard touchdown pass with only thirty-six seconds left in regulation to give Tennessee the win.

Now the Titans take on a division rival, coming off the most emotionally-charged win in their disappointing season. Jacksonville was able to shut out the Colts entirely, which was required to win with their weak offense. Can they do the same to the Titans? Two straight shutouts would be unbelievably impressive.

Stopping Marcus Mariota hasn’t been the simplest task this season. In each of his last four complete games played, the Titans QB has finished as a top-ten performer for his position. He’s completing 68.6% of his passes on the year and has rushed for 326-yards and two TDs.

For Tennessee to win this contest, they’ll need to find success in the run game. Recently, they’ve preferred to feed the hot hand in the backfield. Both Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis get some looks early on, and whoever is having the most success receives the most carries as the game progresses. They’ll need a mix of both running backs and Mariota in the rushing attack this Thursday.

It’s harder to see the Titans moving the ball well through the air. If Jalen Ramsey plays like he did last week, Corey Davis will be taken out of the game. When that happens, Tennessee doesn’t have many other receiving weapons to pick up the slack. Taywan Taylor saved the day during last week’s comeback, but his three catches for 104-yards isn’t sustainable, especially with AJ Bouye in coverage.

Perhaps Jonnu Smith or Anthony Firsker will dominate the receiving game for the Titans. Both of these tight ends have had massive performances in the past two weeks. A heavy dose of two-TE lineups could help Tennessee keep two of their better receivers on the field, while also accommodating the run. Colts tight ends caught eleven passes last week, so this seems to be an effective plan of attack.

Injury Designations:

This week the Titans have quite a few names on the injury report, but they should be fine. Most of the more significant inclusions are expected to perform, including Marcus Mariota and Malcolm Butler.

Questionable

  • QB – Marcus Mariota (hand)
  • WR – Tajae Sharpe (ankle)
  • WR – Darius Jennings (knee)
  • DT – Jurrell Casey (shoulder)
  • LB – Derrick Morgan (knee)
  • CB – Adoree’ Jackson (wrist)
  • CB – Malcolm Butler (quadriceps)

Fantasy Football Sit/ Start

In the past, I’ve stuck to sportsbook betting exclusively in my picks articles. But, with so much of the gambling public wagering through daily and even season-long fantasy, I’ve decided to share my sits and starts for the game as well.

This has the potential to be the worst game of the 2018 NFL season, as far as fantasy football is concerned. On Thursday we’ll all be treated to two defensively minded units playing old school field-possession football, with tons of punts and some crucial field goals.

There’s definitely not much to like on the offensive side of the ball for the Jaguars. Besides Leonard Fournette, it’ll be tough finding another valuable starter with Cody Kessler lining up under center. Moncrief, Westbrook, and Cole have all been inconsistent due to the terrible QB play this season, which probably won’t improve against Tennessee’s tough defense.

If there is any scoring on Thursday night, I’m predicting it comes from the Titans. They’ve dominated this matchup with the Jags in recent years, going 4-2 in their last six meetings. At home – like they’ll be this week – they’ve beaten Jacksonville in four straight.

Furthermore, I’m not confident that the Jaguars defense that we saw last week is here to stay. Traditionally, Doug Marrone teams have been immune to positive momentum, going 1-13 in contests immediately following scoring an upset as the underdog.

Tennessee is going to keep pounding the ball on the ground, while their defense ensures Kessler goes three-and-out frequently throughout the day. The longer they’re stranded on the field, the more fatigued Jacksonville’s defense will grow. Eventually, the Titans will break through an exhausted defense, scoring 21 second-half points in route to a 24-9 victory at home.

These sit/start options reflect this prediction:

Start

  • Marcus Mariota – Titans QB – Don’t be scared off by last week’s Colts-Jags game, Mariota owners. Based on recent history, Jacksonville’s positive defensive momentum won’t carry over to Thursday’s game. Plus, Mariota is a top-ten player in four of his last five starts. His ability to run will be a significant factor in this week’s game, with a rushing TD feeling extremely likely.
  • Dion Lewis – Titans RB – Last week was Derrick Henry’s turn to be the lead back. However, against the Jags, Dion Lewis’ skill set is a better fit. Jacksonville is still stout against the run, but more vulnerable to passes to RBs. With the Jaguars forcing lots of check-downs and throws underneath, guys like Lewis are in prime position to benefit.
  • Anthony Firkser – Titans TE – Anthony Firkser is coming on as a reliable receiving TE. He’s caught all thirteen passes thrown his way and gained 174-yards for the year. He ran eighteen routes versus the Jets, a season-high, and should be a crucial factor on Thursday. Tight ends for the Colts caught eleven passes last week, despite Jacksonville’s incredible defensive performance.
  • Jonnu Smith – Titans TE – Jonnu Smith showed his explosive scoring ability versus the Houston Texans a couple of weeks ago, but hasn’t received the targets to warrant starting in your fantasy lineup every week. However, this week both tight ends are excellent candidates for a breakout game. The Jags are vulnerable to the TE position, and the Titans don’t have many receivers worth targeting instead.
  • Titans DST – With 60% of their starting offensive line on IR and Cody Kessler under center, the Jaguars are a target for defensive streamers. The Titans already have a sturdy defense, making this extremely advantageous matchup a godsend for owners participating in the fantasy playoffs this weekend.
  • Leonard Fournette – Jaguars RB – Leonard Fournette is the only Jaguars player on offense I’d feel comfortable starting this week. Thanks to a one-game suspension for fighting, Fournette enters the Thursday primetime showdown with fresh legs while everyone else is playing on short rest. He’ll see plenty of volume and targets in the passing game to be worth a start even if Jacksonville falls flat.
  • Jaguars DST – Owners of the Jaguars defense are probably quite disillusioned by now. The top-ranked unit from 2017 has failed to live up to expectations this year, with the exception of last week. If they can return to Week 14 80% as good as they were against the Colts, this game will become a low-scoring slugfest. The Titans’ lack of receiving options makes this a strong possibility.

Sit

  • Corey Davis – Titans WR – Corey Davis may have won the game for the Titans last week, but his fantasy contributions were minimal. In fact, the eleven-yard TD catch with under a minute left was his first reception of the game. The last three times he’s played the Jags, Davis caught two balls for 34-yards in one game, got shut out for 0/0 in the next, and caught one pass for four yards in the third.
  • Tajae Sharpe – Titans WR – Tajae Sharpe is basically useless in fantasy football. He’s had zero yards in three of his last five contests. There’s always the threat of a random big play TD, but you’ll lose on that gamble way more often than you’ll win.
  • Derrick Henry – Titans RB – Derrick Henry found some success moving the ball against the Jets last week, earning him the bulk of the carries. However, Dion Lewis still played 59% of the snaps. Between the short rest and a stout Jaguars run-defense, this won’t be a fun week for Henry owners.
  • Cody Kessler – Jaguars QB – Cody Kessler is just a game manager. He’ll make safe short passes and checkdown whenever his first option is covered. That’s all they’re asking him to do. That’s not a great recipe for winning fantasy football games though.

Potential Sleepers

  • TJ Yeldon – Jaguars RB – Despite Fournette coming back, TJ Yeldon still has the potential to blow up this week. Yeldon’s style of play meshes well with the check-down loving Kessler at QB. The second-string RB is likely to be one of the most targeted receivers on the Jaguars on Thursday.
  • Taywan Taylor – Titans WR – Last week, Taywan Taylor showed what he could do with only a few targets. Surely his dynamic role in the Titans’ comeback win versus the Jets will earn the speedster additional looks in Week 14. The matchup isn’t ideal, but you never know when one of these explosive receivers is going to break a game open.

Week 14 NFL Thursday Night Football Favorite Bets

After analyzing these teams, I have to go with the home team laying 4.5 points on Thursday night. The margin of error required for the Jaguars to win is just too thin. Their defense has to play perfect shutout football for them to win, as their offense is completely inept.

I don’t think they have back-to-back shutouts in them. As I shared earlier, nothing in Doug Marrone’s coaching past suggests they do either. Nevertheless, they will likely have enough to stifle most of the Titans drives, keeping the game low-scoring while ultimately losing.

I’ve got to take the Titans and the under in this one. Neither of these squads are particularly impressive, but Tennessee has the better QB, better coach, and a healthier offensive line. It won’t be pretty, but I’m predicting a final score of 24-9.

The NFL Thursday Night Picks

Titans -4.5 at -110 betting odds

$100 to win $90.91

Under 37.5 total points at -115 betting odds

$60 to win $52.17

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