The Jacksonville Jaguars head on the road this Sunday to take on the Cleveland Browns and shockingly opened up a 7.5-point favorite. I say shockingly because it’s still jarring to see the Jaguars as more than a touchdown favorite against anyone, let alone while on the road. While the Browns seem to be pretty hapless, a 7.5-point line (which is up to 8.5 in some places) is probably the biggest sign that publicly the Jaguars have “arrived” as actually good.
I can’t remember the last time the Jaguars were that big of a favorite on the road, but my guess would be somewhere around 2007-ish.
Jumping back into reality though, the Jaguars probably should be at least a touchdown favorite on the road against the Browns. The Browns are bad, folks, and the Jaguars are a team that on paper should bully them around and beat them by multiple scores. Sure, the Browns have the third ranked run defense in the NFL, but I’m not sure how much I actually buy their run defense being actually that good and is probably combination of teams being able to pass at will against them, especially with some of their injuries in the pass rush and at linebacker.
The real reason for the huge line is probably that people struggle to see how the Browns are actually going to score, more than once. The Jaguars defense has given up only 12 touchdowns all season, six rushing touchdowns and six passing touchdowns. They held the best scoring offense in the NFL to just 14 points (the defense isn’t responsible for kickoff or blocked punt scores) and the Browns offense is well… actually bad. Their rookie starting quarterback, DeShone Kizer, is a turnover machine, is struggling to complete passes and has been sacked 16 times.
While they may not “hang 40” on the Browns like Tashaun Gipson wants to, it’s hard for me to see how the Jaguars can even lose this game, barring a bunch of turnovers by their offense or the defense just totally craps the bed.