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New England Patriots vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Point Spread - Pick

New England Patriots (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS)
Week 2 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, September 16, 2018 at 4:05PM EDT
Where: TIAA Bank Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida
TV: CBS

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Betting Odds: NE -2/JAC +2
Over/Under Total: 45

The New England Patriots come to the Sunshine State to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in a big week two AFC matchup. Each team started the season in good form with a win and a cover, as they each seek big things this season. These teams played in last season's conference title game, with New England winning with a TD late in the fourth quarter, suggesting the Jags aren't all that far behind. And considering that they return for this season more-intact than the Pats roster-wise, maybe they can turn the trick this season, starting with a big week two home game.

Again, both teams looked reasonably good in week one wins. New England beat the Texans, 27-20, and now face a tricky two-game road stretch. It was a typical New England win in many ways, with Tom Brady having a strong performance and connecting well with Rob Gronkowski, with an ensemble running game manifesting. And on defense, they weren't great perhaps, but were able to keep Houston's Deshaun Watson from really making an impact on the game.

The Jaguars prevailed on the road in week one with a 20-15 win over the Giants. As is normally the case, the rigid and playmaking Jacksonville "D" was a major part of the win, playing solidly overall and delivering in the 4th quarter with a pick-six by LB Myles Jack to break open a tight game. QB Blake Bortles wasn't great on the day through the air, but had some nice runs and did enough to lead his team to a tough week one road triumph.

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There is no point in trying to down-rate the Jaguars' defense. Like last season, they should again be tip-top. They have a lot of dimensions, with an uncanny ability to change the course of games with big plays. They may even be better this season with some youth and injured players returning to the fold. If anything derails Jacksonville this season, it would seem to be the other side of the ball. Granted, playing in East Rutherford makes it hard for some offenses to thrive, but it's not a one-game window we're talking about, either.

Bortles could inevitably hold this team back some, as they're more or less locked into the up-and-down quarterback. We also saw Leonard Fournette having hamstring issues, as he is questionable for this game. They have some upside in the run-game and Fournette has given them another dimension. And depth exists there, with TJ Yeldon, Corey Grant, and even Bortles breaking loose some runs. It's just that the receiving package of Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, Donte Moncrief, and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins doesn't ring of what you'd see from a real contender. This side of the ball really lags behind the "D" and that could be their undoing.

With the Patriots, it would seem the opposite would be true. Over the years, they've been able to mask some inadequacies on defense. They either camouflage trouble-areas and just make it work somehow or we've even seen them orchestrate sudden and dramatic turnarounds in mid-season. Last season, for example, they opened the season with a pass-defense that was bad on historical levels, only to suddenly flip the switch. This season, however, some expect those issues on "D" to manifest a bit more readily.

It's just that when critiquing the Pats, it helps to understand the starting point and standards being used in the analysis. A dynasty has to answer to a higher standard. So while you might see an anti-Patriot contingent growing this season in handicapping circles and that they're not getting big chalk to win it all this season, it doesn't mean we're not talking about a heck of a team. Brady's time is running out and he's still awfully-effective. A healthy Gronkowski, a luxury they aren't always granted, makes the offense a lot better. And they have that.

With the Pats, there is this sneaking suspicion that the recipe for automatic success has grown a bit tired. It's understandable on certain levels. From a roster-standpoint, it's not one of the more-impressive the Patriots have put forward in recent seasons. When you see Phillip Dorsett getting a lot of work in this offense, it suggests that the star-power isn't what it once was in this offense. Edelman returning in week five helps that. But some pieces from the backfield and receiving crew have departed and they're a little thin perhaps in the overall playmaking department. Again, the standards are high and we're still looking at a team that is a major conference contender until we see otherwise.

This might be a somewhat-simplistic viewpoint, but I see the Jags as more of the team on the rise. I see their "D" being just as good if not better than last season. For the Patriots, the Jaguars are annoying little puppies biting at their heels. For the Jags, this game has some legitimate revenge factors that should have the crowd and team pumped for the home-opener. I'm taking the Jaguars in this one.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Jacksonville Jaguars plus two points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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