Martin Green •
Jaguars vs. Dolphins
Florida rivals Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins will head to London for an eagerly anticipated clash in Week 6 of the NFL season. Both teams have struggled in the opening weeks of the season, so it represents a golden opportunity for one of them to secure a morale-boosting win. The Dolphins are the 3.5-point favorites in the NFL betting odds, but can they cover the spread in London? Let’s break down the game and explore some intriguing betting options.
Jags Remain Winless This Season
The Jaguars are rock bottom of every NFL power ranking list after slumping to an 0-5 start to the season. It is perhaps unsurprising, as Jacksonville was installed as a +125000 outsider to win the Super Bowl at the start of the season, but the lopsided nature of their defeats thus far will be painful for Jags fans. They began the season with a 37-21 defeat to the Texans, before suffering back-to-back losses against the Broncos and the Cardinals. In Week 4, Jacksonville suffered a 24-21 defeat to a weak Cincinnati Bengals team, before losing 37-19 to the Titans on Sunday. Derrick Henry tore through the Jaguars’ defense at will in that game.
Head coach Urban Meyer is now skating on very thin ice. He is already in trouble over a viral video of a woman dancing on his lap in a bar, while his post-game press conferences have been bizarre. He seems keen to pass the buck. He insisted that he “doesn’t micromanage who's on the field” and that leadership of the team “falls on the players”.
One more slip-up could see owner Shad Khan wield the axe upon Meyer, so this is a must-win game for the first-time NFL coach. Yet Jacksonville has now lost 20 games in a row, a run stretching back to last year’s season opener. There have been a few bright sparks – running back James Robinson is growing increasingly accomplished, while first overall pick Trevor Lawrence has displayed composure – but the general picture remains bleak for this team.
Dolphins Have Disappointed in Recent Weeks
The Dolphins won 10 games last year, and it seemed like a franchise that was going places. After all, Miami boasts a powerful defense, an improving offense featuring second year QB Tua Yagovailoa, and a strong selection of promising rookies. Several commentators named Miami as a dark horse in the AFC, and it was priced at just +1600 to win the conference. It made the perfect start to proceedings, battling to a 17-16 win against divisional rival New England at Foxborough, but it has all gone wrong for this team since then.
The Dolphins suffered a blowout 35-0 defeat to the Bills, before losing to the Raiders in overtime. They were outplayed in a 27-17 loss against the Colts, and they then suffered an extremely damaging 45-17 defeat to the Bucs in Week 5. Miami now has the worst points differential in the league at -75, and their chances of reaching the playoffs look slim. They are now priced at +300 with some sportsbooks to make the postseason, so they need to turn things around quickly.
This game against the Jags could represent the perfect opportunity for the Dolphins to get their season back on track. Tom Brady dismantled their defense with ruthless efficiency last weekend, but this will be a much gentler assignment. The Dolphins defense has undoubtedly regressed badly this year, highlighted by the fact that Miami has gone from having the best third-down defense in 2020 to the worst this year, but the Jags’ offense is not exactly stacked with talent, so it could improve its numbers in London.
Tagovailoa is expected to return from injury for the Dolphins this weekend. He led the team to that 17-16 win against the Pats in Week 1, but he has been out ever since, and deputy Jacoby Brissett has struggled to fill the void. The return of Tagovailoa should give the Dolphins’ offense a shot in the arm as it prepares to take on a Jacksonville team with one of the league’s worst defensive records. Miami also hopes to have DeVante Parker back from injury after he sat out last week’s defeat with a hamstring strain.
Jags center Brandon Linder, one of the league’s best players in his position, was carted off with a knee injury in the fourth quarter of last weekend’s game against the Titans. The offensive line is also missing right Guard A.J. Cann, who was placed on injured reserve with a knee issue. Wide receiver D.J. Chark Jr. is out indefinitely for the Jags with a fractured ankle.
· The Jaguars are on a 20-game losing streak and 0-5 so far this season.
· Jacksonville is the first team in the Super Bowl era to manage zero field goals in its first five games of a season.
· The Jags are 28th in the league for points per game and 26th for passing yards per game.
· These teams are in the bottom five offensively in the NFL. The Dolphins average 15.8 points per game and the Jaguars average 18.6.
· The Dolphins have the league’s worst points differential at -75.
· Miami’s defense is allowing 422 yards per game, which leaves it 30th in the NFL.
· The Dolphins are 1-3 in games played in London, and the Jags are 3-4.
· Miami is 2-3 ATS this season and Jacksonville is 1-4.
· Over has paid off in two of the Jags’ five games, and under has come in three times. The Dolphins are 3-2 in the over/under stats.
· The underdog has won the last three meetings between the Jaguars and the Dolphins.
Miami was the 2.5-point favorite when the line opened on this game, but it has drifted out to 3.5 points after the Dolphins proved popular among bettors to cover. Some might be tempted to back Jacksonville at that improved line, particularly when you consider that London has not been a happy hunting ground for Miami. Yet the return of Tagovailoa could swing this game in the Dolphins’ favor, and odds of -105 on Miami -3.5 at DraftKings look appealing.
The total points line has been set at 47.5. When you consider how ineffective both offenses have been so far this season, under looks attractive at -110 with DraftKings.