Hopping on the Jaguars’ Vacant Bandwagon

Sad-sack Jacksonville getting plenty of juicy points

The Jaguars in their natural environment--about to be scored upon.

The Jaguars in their natural environment–about to be scored upon.

The NFL season is but two weeks old, and yet it’s already easier to find Waldo than it is to find a Jaguars fan. In losses to the Chiefs and Raiders, Jacksonville was outscored 47-11, with those 11 points coming on a safety, a field goal and a late fourth-quarter touchdown (followed, of course, by a missed 2-point conversion).

How depressing are things in northern Florida? The Jags’ few remaining supporters held a rally urging the team to sign Tim Tebow, on the same day an Orlando TV station publicly apologized for having to broadcast Jacksonville’s 19-9 loss in Oakland—the team’s 30th defeat in its last 37 games.

Now you know why the Jags are an eye-popping 19½-point underdog at Seattle this week … and why the only people in these parts waving teal and black pom-poms work behind the counter at Las Vegas sportsbooks. “There’s no doubt we’re going to be rooting for the Jaguars all year,” says Jay Kornegay, who runs the LVH Superbook. “I might as well go get a Jaguars jersey and wear it on Sundays.”

Kornegay can’t recall seeing such a massive NFL spread this early in a season, and he fears the number will only head north. “It could get to 21,” he says. Here’s why: Not only are the Jags a mess, but they’re playing a second straight West Coast contest; their best offensive weapon (RB Maurice Jones-Drew) is hurt; they’re 1-6 against the spread since the end of November (all as a ‘dog); and they’re facing a Seahawks team coming off a 29-3 shellacking of the 49ers. Additionally, Seattle is on a 14-2 straight-up and ATS run overall, and those 14 victories were by an average of 20 points. And that doesn’t include a 41-0 beat-down of the Jaguars the last time these teams met in Seattle in 2009.

Indeed, there’s a better chance of me landing a backup-dancer gig in Britney Spears’ new Vegas show than there is of the Jaguars competing in Seattle. So of course I’m grabbing the 19½ points—because the Seahawks are in a letdown and look-ahead spot (two road games on deck); because Jags coach Gus Bradley spent the past four seasons as a Seahawks assistant (might ex-boss Pete Carroll show some mercy?); and, well, because the Jags could use a fan right about now. …

Lucky Seven: Jaguars +19½ at Seahawks (Best Bet); Cardinals +7½ at Saints; Texans -2½ at Ravens; Browns-Vikings UNDER 41; Western Illinois +12½ at UNLV; Purdue +24 at Wisconsin; Utah State +6½ at USC. Last Week: 2-4 (0-1 Best Bet). Season: 9-8 (6-3 college; 3-5 NFL).

Says Vegas Runner (@VegasRunner) of Pregame.com: Disagree on the Cardinals-Saints. New Orleans has a great home-field advantage, one of the most efficient and difficult offenses to prepare for and an improved defense. My true line is Saints minus-12, and I see them going to 3-0 with a double-digit victory.


Matt Jacob appears Wednesdays on Pregame.com’s First Preview, which airs 10-11 a.m. weekdays on ESPN Radio 1100-AM.

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I was pushing the accelerator toward death—Death Valley—on a long empty highway, signs of life disappearing in a blur. July, middle of the day, alone, just feeling cooped up and curious, waltzing in my head with the first lines of this Alastair Reid poem: Curiosity may have killed the cat; more / likely / the cat was just unlucky, or else / curious / to see what death was like, / having no cause to go on licking paws, or / fathering / litter on litter of kittens,/ predictably. It was that kind of day.