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Dec 6, 2017

NFL preview: Seattle Seahawks at Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL preview: Seattle Seahawks at Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville, the current fifth seed in the AFC entertain the similarly seeded Seattle Seahawks from the rival NFC in the second wave of Sunday games in the NFL this weekend. The scheduling shift may help the visiting team, but is there still value on offer in the Seahawks vs. Jaguars odds? Read on to find out.

Live Seahawks vs. Jaguars odds

Analysing postseason prospects

Both sides are strongly favoured to make the postseason with just four regular season matches remaining to be played. The Jaguars are near certainties to play knockout football, with a trio of sides two games adrift of the wildcard spot they currently hold and a potential divisional title decider awaiting the in Tennessee in the concluding week of the season.

Jacksonville are currently around a coin toss to win the AFC South and get an enhanced home field presence in the postseason and a win over Seattle would boost those chances to odds on, whereas defeat would make them around a one in three chance of lifting the division.

Seattle’s postseason prospects are upwards of 80%. They have a stronger group of opponents looking to challenge for their postseason spot and although they also meet their divisional title rivals the Rams in week 15, they also currently trail them by a game. 

Defeat against the Jags would likely knock a hefty 15% from their current 80% chance of making the postseason party.

Seahawks vs. Jaguars betting: A solid defence

Jacksonville continues to prosper despite the less-than-impressive performances of their quarterback Blake Bortles. His overall performances are little changed from his previous best season in 2015 when the Jags were a 5-11 team. 

Matchups suggest that both teams will struggle offensively to pass the ball, more so the visitors because of Jacksonville’s outstanding pass defence.

They pass for three-tenths of a yard shorter per attempt than the defences they have faced are allowing in 2017 and Bortles is similarly rated just below average in total quarterback rating for 2017, although he is protecting the football better than previously.

Whilst he’s looked impressive against Baltimore and twice against Indianapolis, he’s also struggled to be productive in other games, notably against the Jets and Titans.

The stars in Jacksonville remain the defensive players. They’ve been wholly unexceptional against the run, but are sensational when defending against the aerial threat in a sport still dominated by the passing game.

They’ve knocked a full yard and a half per attempt off the average net gain achieved by the passing offences they have encountered in 2017 and they are also contributing to the team’s scoring with timely turnovers and picks.

The Jaguars defence has restricted their opponents to 15 points per game, a full touchdown below their opponent’s normal scoring rate per game and they’ve given up 10 points or fewer in seven of the 12 matches so far.

Their impressive season has also been fuelled by the league’s second-best turnover differential of +12. 

This can be a cause for concern, as such extremes tend to become less extreme over time, but much of the Jaguars numbers are driven by interceptions and excellent pass defence often goes hand in hand with healthy and partly repeatable interceptions totals - so their turnover differential may be partly sustainable. 

Consistency is the key for Seattle

Seattle’s multifaceted quarterback Russell Wilson is aiming to get his Seahawks side into the postseason for a six consecutive season.

After a below par season in 2016, largely down to a weak offensive line, Wilson is back into the top ten of elite quarterbacks for 2017 - albeit still slightly removed from the consistently excellent numbers he has posted since his NFL debut in 2012. 

The number of sacks he was taking had become a major issue, but 2017 is currently on course to fall below 40 in the regular season for the first time since his rookie year.

Seattle are a more familiar playoff contender who has recently inflicted only the second defeat of the season on Philadelphia.

Wilson’s passing efficiency is just above par for the defences he’s faced, while the running game is below par, but only marginally so. The Seahawks are outscoring opponent defences by half a point a game compared to par for those defences.

Overall, Seattle has a better offence than Jacksonville - not leas because they are less reliant upon their defence making considerable contributions to the attacking cause. 

Defensively, Sunday’s visitors are both well balanced and above average. They’ve knocked half a yard per pass attempt off the usual offensive output of their opponents in 2017 and taken two-tenths of a yard from their average rushing yards per attempt. 

Whilst they are also difficult to score against, allowing 18.5 points per game compared to an average usual output of 21 points per game from their opponents, they are merely a top ten defence in 2017 compared to the top spot owned by their hosts. 

Seahawks vs. Jaguars odds: What do the stats suggest?

For the first time in a decade, the Jaguars look set to reach the postseason. Their points differential and associated Pythagorean win expectation makes them a 12.5 win team over a 16-game regular season compared to just a 10.5 winning regular season for their opponents, Seattle. 

Matchups suggest that both teams will struggle offensively to pass the ball, more so the visitors because of Jacksonville’s outstanding pass defence. Efficient movement of the ball on the ground may bring points, but will also eat into the clock and totals are predicted to be around 37 points. 

Seattle’s need for a win is slightly greater than Jacksonville’s given the relative competitiveness of their respective divisions and conferences. They are a more familiar playoff contender who has recently inflicted only the second defeat of the season on Philadelphia (they have also managed to cope well with a growing injury list). 

However, Jacksonville will again be reliant upon their number one ranked defence to set a modest total for their offence to overcome and the hosts are taken to win by around six points.

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