The defending Super Bowl champions will begin their 2012 NFL preseason schedule in the Sunshine State on Friday night at EverBank Field in Jacksonville. Let’s take a closer look at this exhibition affair from a betting perspective.
Put a ring on it
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning now has one more Super Bowl ring than his brother Peyton, coming away with a 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots as three-point underdogs on Feb. 5. The Jacksonville Jaguars are a long way from reaching that type of goal, posting a 5-11 straight-up record a season ago, while going 7-8-1 against the spread.
Taking a look back at the 2008 NFL preseason
The Giants suffered a 13-10 loss to the Detroit Lions as three-point underdogs in their preseason opener in 2008, which is significant, considering they won the Super Bowl just seven months earlier. New York alternated wins and losses in its four games before the regular season, finishing with a 2-0-2 ATS mark.
Jaguars lack playmakers on the offensive end
Jacksonville will certainly be playing this contest without the services of veteran running back Maurice Jones-Drew (holding out) and this year’s first-round selection Justin Blackmon (unsigned), which places a lot of pressure on second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert. It’s going to be very difficult to replace Jones-Drew’s league-leading 1,606 rushing yards from a year ago while the wideouts were led by Mike Thomas’ less-than-inspiring 415 receiving yards in 2011.
Backup running back Rashard Jennings is receiving much of the media’s attention in training camp, as many expect him to gain over 1,000 yards in the absence of one of the NFL’s best runners. I believe these are lofty expectations for someone that gained just 202 and 459 yards during the 2009 and 2010 campaigns respectively.
Mularkey to the rescue
Mike Mularkey was named head coach of the Jaguars franchise almost immediately after the 2011 regular season came to an end, entering with 18 years of NFL coaching experience. Jacksonville’s fan base is hoping he doesn’t turn into a bunch of “malarkey," a slang term for nonsense and rubbish. He takes over a team that finished last in the league in total offense, averaging just 259.3 yards per game, which was nearly 24 yards less than the St. Louis Rams (283.6 ypg).
Situation at hand
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has compiled a 34-31 SU record and 35-28-6 ATS during the preseason, which must be respected when taking on a first-year head coach on the other sideline. It’s important to note that coaches experiencing their first-ever preseason contest went 3-3 ATS in preseason openers a year ago. New York will attract a lot of betting action due to opening exhibition play with a victory in 11 of the last 16 years.
Sports bettors will need to take notice of the line move that has occurred on the NFL odds page, as the Jaguars opened up as one-point home favorites, with that number climbing over the last six days. I’m going to follow that lead and hope that the Giants get caught looking ahead to playing the New York Jets on Aug. 18.
Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars -2.5