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Sep 26, 2018
Sep 26, 2018

NFL Week 4 preview: New York Jets at Jacksonville Jaguars

The quarterback situation

New York Jets Statistics

Jacksonville Jaguars Statistics

Where is the value?

NFL Week 4 preview: New York Jets at Jacksonville Jaguars

The New York Jets travel to Florida to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in the pick of this week’s NFL fixtures. Looking for value in the NFL Week 4 odds? Read on to inform your NFL Week 4 predictions.

The quarterback situation

Unlike the Giants, the New York Jets made a bold bid to address their unsuccessful array of quarterbacks in recent seasons, albeit a costly one in terms of ceded draft picks.

Pennington and a 2008 swansong from Favre, gave way to a stable, if underwhelming Sanchez, who was followed in quick succession by Smith, Fitzpatrick and McCown.

Nevertheless, post season success in 2009 and 2010 came - rather than because of their passing ability and just one winning season from 2011 triggered the Jets’ decision to trade four draft picks to ensure they could take Sam Darnold at number three in this year’s draft.

Darnold has all the physical attributes required of a modern quarterback and impressed sufficiently in pre-season to be given the week one start.

An equally impressive statistical start in the easy win over Detroit, gave way to dip in the Jets’ narrow defeat to divisional rivals, Miami.

Darnold’s hard landing continued as Cleveland took the ball away from him twice, restricted his completion and yardage per attempt in recording their first win following their 0-16 2017 season.

First round quarterback draft picks inevitably need time to adjust to the NFL and only a couple have made a seamless transition to the professional ranks over the last decade.

Robert Griffin was the only selection to break a quarterback rating of more than 100 this decade, fueled by an interception rate of just over 1%, completion rates of 66% and yards per attempt of greater than eight.

New York Jets Statistics

More typically a first year, top quarterback draft selection returns a QB rating in the mid 70’s, completion rates in the mid 50’s, around 6.5 yards per attempt and interception rates of nearly 3%.

Darnold should be an unspectacular performer in 2018 and if he performs in line with those draft picks that went before him may manage to emulate the Jets’ passing ability from 2017. But the upside will hopefully come in subsequent seasons.

In 2017, the Jets passed for just 95% of the average yardage per attempt allowed by their opponents.

They were also a below par running team in 2017, combining for an average of 4 yards per carry against offenses that typically allowed 4.2.

Darnold has all the physical attributes required of a modern quarterback and impressed sufficiently in pre-season to be given the week one start.

Both below average facets of their offense combined to score three fewer points per game than was usual for their opponents to concede.

Statistically, they were slightly better on defense, being marginally above average against the run and no better than average against the pass. But they still leaked two more points per game than the average scored by the teams they faced.

The Jets’ turnover differential wasn’t too extreme, they gave the ball away four more times than they claimed it and they lost two more narrow matches than they won.

Five actual wins may have become six if they had returns that more closely tracked their Pythagorean.

Jacksonville Jaguars Statistics

The Jaguars were a rare post season side whose Pythagorean win expectation was nearly two wins above their actual 10-6 record, although they did also post the equal 5th best turnover differential of +10.

They went all the way to the AFC Championship game, where they were arguably unlucky to lose narrowly to New England and they also claimed Pittsburgh twice on the road, but their record may not be all that it seems.

The AFC South has been a notoriously weaken division in recent years, where injuries have harmed many of their divisional rivals and for all their success, the Jags still harbor doubts about the quarterback position.

Blake Bortles made a week three debut in his draft year, experiencing a typically disappointing debut season.

Improvement was incremental in 2015, but he has stalled at a level more akin to a decent backup than an established starter, to the extent that the Jags have become more and more reluctant to put the ball in Bortles’ hands.

In 2017, the Jags were no better than an averagely efficient passing team and a slightly above average running team, who owed much of their scoring efficiency to a ball hawking, fumble recovering defence.

They scored 3 more points per game than their opponents usually allowed, but seven of those touchdowns were claimed by the defence.

The stars in Jacksonville was a wildly unbalanced defensive unit that conceded the running game, they allowed 4.3 yards per carry against offenses that average just below four, but entirely shutdown their opponents passing game.

Opponents faced up to the Jags averaging 6.5 yards per passing attempt, but returned fewer than 5.3 yards per pass in the game.

The Jaguars were a rare post season side whose Pythagorean win expectation was nearly two wins above their actual 10-6 record.

The Jags ranked first against the pass, outside the top 20 against the run, but in a passing orientated league they allowed four fewer points per game compared to the average points scored by their opponents.

They are still a top 10 defence from the limited evidence from 2018, gaining a revenge win over the Patriots, but then losing their 100% record when restricting Tennessee to nine points, but failing to score enough points to secure the win.

Where is the Value?

If we pitch Darnold as an upgrade for the future, rather than the present, Pythagorean matchups give the Jags around an 84% chance of winning.

Defensive and offensive matchups suggest that the Jets will have little or no success through the air, but each team will achieve average production in the remaining three matchups.

This projects to a 21- 10 win for Jacksonville, although some of their scoring will need to come from the defence.

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