The 5-1 New York Giants will travel to Jacksonville to meet the 2-4 Jaguars Sunday in a match at first glance that looks like a lopsided one.
But the surging NY Giants can’t afford a letdown against the revived Jaguars, who are playing better despite losing their last three games. The Jags played well in their home and season opener with a 24-0 shutout against the Colts, but they fell flat in a 13-6 loss to the Texans two weeks ago.
The line has generated plenty of interest for an unpredictable battle with Jacksonville being a slight favorite (-3).
The Giants, coming off an impressive late win over the Ravens last week, have a chance to keep working toward clinching a postseason spot with a win In Jacksonville. They then have Seattle, Houston, and Detroit on the schedule before a showdown in Dallas — one that could have huge implications for the division title.
A healthy Saquon Barkley has been the difference maker for the team.
The Jaguars will be looking to gain back some respectability mainly with their defense. Their once league-leading rushing defense was shredded by Philadelphia three weeks ago, and their pass defense surrendered 389 yards last week.
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N.Y. Giants vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Betting Odds
At several sportsbooks, the Jaguars opened as 2.5-point favorites, but that number was not available for long. Bettors quickly swooped in to grab the home team at less than a field goal, and now the spread is Jacksonville -3 almost universally.
Here are some of the best odds available at various sportsbooks.
A Closer Look at Each Team
Quarterback Daniel Jones continues to silence his critics with his consistent play. Jones will be shooting for his third consecutive week with a 70% or better completion rate and a 100-plus QB rating. Jones completed 19 of 27 attempts last week for 173 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. He has two interceptions this season and hasn’t thrown one in three weeks. Jones also has run for 236 yards with two rushing touchdowns. The lone blemish, which isn’t totally his fault, has been 19 sacks. Four of those were last week.
Barkley had 95 yards from scrimmage (83 rush, 12 receiving) last week, and has been the only player with 85-plus scrimmage yards in the first six weeks of the season. He has a league-high 616 yards with six touchdowns on a 5.2-yard-per-carry clip. Barkley also leads the team in receptions with 21 for 155 yards.
The team has averaged 21.2 points per game, which is in the league’s bottom half, but they have the fourth-best rushing offense behind Barkley (163 yards per game). They are ranked 31st in passing yardage (154.3 yards per game)
Richie James (19-189) and Daniel Bellenger (15-139) continue to be catalysts for the receiving corps that has lost Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepherd, and Kadarius Toney. However, Toney should be back next week.
Kicker Graham Gano is one of the league’s best, converting 12 of 14 attempts.
Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence had a career-high percentage rate last week against Indianapolis in which he completed 20 of 22 passes for 165 yards. He also rushed for two touchdowns. For the year, Lawrence has shaken the rookie jitters and looks like a seasoned pro. He has thrown for 1,397 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions.
Running back Travis Etienne, who missed all of his rookie season last year, has been a huge surprise in the backfield with his 301 yards for a 5.6 per yard average, and he has caught 13 passes for 146 yards. Etienne’s speed has been the perfect complement for workhorse back James Robinson, who leads the team with 340 yards.
Veteran acquisition Christian Kirk has meshed well with a team-high 25 grabs for 362 yards with four touchdowns, and ex-Giant TE Evan Engram has resurfaced as a steady force (24-208) after being a flop in New York. Lawrence has utilized both Zay Jones (27-227) and Marvin Jones (18-208) to have a plentiful receiving unit.
The Jags’ offense has scored an average of 23 points per game (15th), rushed for 136 yards per game (9th), and passed for 221 yards per game (20th). Lawrence has been sacked 10 times.
The Giants’ defense has allowed 18.8 points per game, good for seventh in the league. They allow an average of 144.8 yards per game on the ground (28th), and 194.5 yards per game through the air (seventh). They have recorded 12 sacks.
Dexter Lawrence is having an All-Pro season with four sacks and has brought stability back to the line. Julian Love had a key fourth-quarter interception last week, and it was the team’s first of the season. Love leads the team with 41 tackles. Fellow safety Xavier McKinney has 31 stops.
Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, who schemes heavily with his linebackers and secondary, will certainly throw a lot of different looks at Lawrence. The Giants’ defense will need to keep Etienne and Robinson in check, as both could get the running game in motion.
Jacksonville’s defense has allowed 19 points per game (9th overall) — issuing 89 yards per game rushing (third) and 244.5 yards per game passing (21st). The Jags have notched 10 sacks.
Linebackers Foyesade Oluokan and Devin Lloyd have been the heart of the defense, leading with 58 and 56 tackles respectively. Lloyd, who is in the running for the Defensive Rookie of the Year, also has two interceptions.
Edge rusher/linebacker Josh Allen has three sacks, and safety Rashawn Jenkins has seven pass deflections.
The obvious key will be to stop Barkley, and it will be a tall order. Jacksonville must bring pressure on Jones, who has been on point the last month.
Injuries and Series History
For the Giants, Golladay (knee), Toney (hamstring), and linebacker Oshane Ximines (shoulder) did not practice Thursday. Golladay and Toney are definitely out and Ximines will be a game-time decision.
The Jaguars are healthy with the exception of wide receiver/kick returner Jamal Agnew (knee) and cornerback Shaquill Griffin (back), who are both doubtful. Griffin was beaten for the winning score with 17 seconds remaining in Indianapolis last week.
This is a relatively young series with Jacksonville leading the meetings, 4-3, but the Jags have won the last three games. Jacksonville won the last meeting between the two teams, 20-15, on Sept. 9, 2018. Barkley ran for 106 yards with a touchdown in New York.
The Jags won their last battle in Jacksonville, 25-24, on Nov. 30, 2014.
This is an interesting game because of the line (Jags -3). This looks like a typical trap game for the Giants, and everyone is waiting for the Giants’ bubble to burst or for Barkley to suffer an injury. The Jags need to bounce back to regain some momentum and respectability. This could go down to a field goal, and Gano is good in the clutch. Take the Giants with the points (+3) in a game that will be closer than most people think. Final score: Giants 24-21
Overall prediction record: 4-2
AP Photo/Adam Hunger