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Week 7 TNF: Jaguars-Saints Preview, Props, Prediction

The Jacksonville Jaguars will try to win their fourth straight game Thursday night when they visit the New Orleans Saints, who have lost three of their last four.

“Their confidence is extremely high right now,” Jaguars coach Doug Pederson said of his players. The Jaguars (4-2) started the season 1-2, then won back-to-back games in London against the Atlanta Falcons and Buffalo Bills before returning home to beat the Indianapolis Colts last week and claim sole possession of first place in the AFC South. “The team really in these last three weeks kind of figured some things out, figured out who we are as a football team,” Pederson said. “We’re beginning to eliminate some of those mistakes that happened early in the season.”

New Orleans (3-3) played its most complete game of the season in a 34-0 victory at New England two weeks ago, but offensive shortcomings that had plagued the team going back to last season returned in a 20-13 loss at Houston last Sunday. Last week, on the Saints’ last three possessions, they reached the Texans’ 11, 15 and 24, but came away without any points. The threats ended with a missed 29-yard field goal, a turnover on downs and an interception. New Orleans has scored touchdowns on just 36.8 percent of its red-zone opportunities (28th in the NFL).

“That’s something that has to improve,” Saints coach Dennis Allen said. “That’s been our issue. We’ve been able to move the ball effectively at times this season and yet something happens that prevents us from being able to score touchdowns down there.” The Saints outgained the Texans 430-297 but could not catch up after managing just two field goals after the first quarter.

QUICK PICK The uncertain status of Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence has caused the line to shift throughout the week. Jacksonville opened as a 1.5-point favorite at BetMGM before the line switched to New Orleans favored by as much as 2.5. The Saints were favored by 2.0 points at the book Thursday afternoon with Lawrence a game-time decision.

Even if he plays, Lawrence’s mobility figures to be impacted by the knee injury. That’s a concern against New Orleans’ stout defense that routinely keeps the Saints in games despite the offense’s struggles. That offense will receive a boost with the expected return of running back Jamaal Williams from a hamstring injury.

Prediction: Saints 20, Jaguars 16

PROP PICK Saints WR Chris Olave Over 62.5 Receiving Yards (-110 at BetMGM): This has been the most popular player prop at the book, drawing 99 percent of the money wagered. After two down games, Olave rebounded with seven catches on 10 targets for 96 yards last week. That followed averaging 100.7 receiving yards through the first three games. With Williams back to team up with Alvin Kamara in the backfield, look for New Orleans to pound the ball from the outset and set up deep shots to Olave.

INJURY REPORT Lawrence, who injured his left knee late in the game against the Colts and was limited at practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, will work out before the game before a final decision is made. He’s officially listed as questionable, but the 2021 No. 1 overall pick has never missed a game in his career.

If Lawrence doesn’t play, C.J. Beathard would start in his place. He started 12 games with the San Francisco 49ers and had a 2-10 record during four seasons (2017-20) with the team.

Guard Brandon Scherff (ankle) is also questionable for the Jags, who ruled out cornerback Tyson Campbell (hamstring), wide receiver Zay Jones (knee) and offensive tackle Walker Little (knee).

The Saints ruled out tight end Juwan Johnson (calf), safety J.T. Gray (hamstring) and three offensive tackles: Ryan Ramczyk (concussion), Landon Young (hip) and James Hurst (ankle).

Safety Tyrann Mathieu (foot) and linebacker Demario Davis (knee) are questionable for New Orleans.

KEY STAT Jacksonville leads the NFL with 15 takeaways and is second in turnover margin (plus-seven) and third in run defense (75.3 yards allowed per game).

THEY SAID IT “It’s not going the way I expected, but we’re still 3-3 and a game out of first place.” –Saints QB Derek Carr

“It’s a week-to-week business. So whatever we did last week is really pointless going forward because any team could beat you in the NFL. If you don’t bring in the right mindset going forward into next week and throughout the whole week of practice, a team can jump out on you.” –Jaguars LB Foye Oluokun –Field Level Media


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