Jaguars open as road favorites for first time in six years
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars spent the last six years as road underdogs. Forty-four consecutive games to be exact.
The betting-line streak ended this week when the Jaguars (2-1) opened as 4 -point favorites at the rebuilding New York Jets (1-2).
It’s a rare spot for Jacksonville, which won just 17 of 80 games during the previous five years, and one players relish as a chance to create some consistency after eight straight losing seasons and three uneven weeks in 2017.
“It’s a huge opportunity,” linebacker Paul Posluszny said. “When was the last time we were 3-1? The fact that we’ve played well, didn’t play well and then played well, we’ve been up and down. If we want to get to the playoffs, we have to be consistent throughout. This is an opportunity to prove that.”
The Jaguars haven’t been 2-1 or 3-1 since 2007, and coach Doug Marrone’s message this week has been mostly about finishing the first quarter of the season with a winning record. It would be the franchise’s first winning quarter of football since 2013.
“I think anytime people look at a winning team in this league or a winning program in college or a winning team in any sport, I think the one thing that you can always put into that label is consistency,” Marrone said. “We’ve got to try to develop that consistency.”
Jacksonville has been mostly solid this season, playing 10 better-than-average quarters of football and two less-than-ideal ones.
The Jaguars are one of six teams — along with Baltimore, Dallas, Minnesota, New Orleans and Tampa Bay — that has yet to play a game decided by less than 10 points.
They followed a near-perfect season debut at Houston with a fully flawed home opener against Tennessee. And then they delivered one of the most complete performances in franchise history, a 44-7 drubbing of Baltimore in London.
Jacksonville was balanced, efficient and turnover-free on offense, and downright dominant on defense.
“Last time we had a good win, we made some mistakes and shot ourselves in the foot in Week 2,” tight end Marcedes Lewis said. “So we’re just trying to follow up, bottle the feeling we got in London and keep it going.”
For the first time in five games abroad, the Jags don’t come home to a bye week. And that’s fine with players.
“Coming off a win, go ahead and get right to the next one, go ahead and push it and see where we can go with this thing,” linebacker Telvin Smith said. “Keep the momentum rolling instead of getting a big win like this and have to sit on it for a while. Let’s go ahead and push it and finish out this quarter strong.”
It starts with being road favorites, which hasn’t happened to Jacksonville since Week 10 in the 2011 season. The Jaguars (2-6) were three-point favorites against winless Indianapolis (0-9) and prevailed 17-3.
“I think it’s huge,” quarterback Blake Bortles said. “We have to figure out how to win and win consistently and win in bunches. I think we had a big game in Week 1 and had a letdown Week 2 and then we bounced back and were able to get back on track Week 3. We have to be able to show we can continue that and make it consistent and do it week-in and week-out.”