NFL Week 1 Upset Alert: Jaguars Are a Live Underdog vs. Commanders

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The Jacksonville Jaguars can technically notch their first winning streak since 2020 by spoiling the first game of the Washington’s Commanders era.

It would come at the expense of quarterback Carson Wentz, who lost in Jacksonville in last year’s finale with the Colts.

Jacksonville did something similar in 2019-20 when it won the final game of the 2019 season against the Colts and beat them again in the 2020 opener before losing 15 straight games.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Washington Commanders

Sunday, September 11, 2022 – 01:00 PM EDT at FedExField

The Jaguars are a 3-point underdog at many of the top-rated sportsbooks. Can new head coach Doug Pederson get off to a good start with Jacksonville with an upset?

In 2021, Washington was a 1.5-point home favorite in Week 1 against the Chargers and lost 20-16.

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Doug Pederson’s Revenge Game

This is an awkward one to label as a revenge game, but it kind of is for Doug Pederson.

He can legitimately say that Carson Wentz and the Washington Football Team are the two biggest reasons he was fired at the end of the 2020 season in Philadelphia.

Previous Seasons' Stats

For starters, there was Wentz’s massive decline in play after peaking so early in the 2017 season. Pederson was able to win a Super Bowl with Nick Foles, then won another playoff game the following year after Wentz was injured.

In 2020, the Eagles finished 4-11-1 with Wentz getting benched after 12 games with 15 interceptions and 50 sacks to his name. The Eagles beat the Saints, a playoff team, with Jalen Hurts in his first start.

In Week 17 in Washington in front of a national audience, Pederson made a questionable decision to pull Hurts for backup and Nate Sudfeld in a close fourth quarter. Some characterized the decision as tanking to get a better draft pick.

The Eagles lost the game 20-14 and Pederson was fired after five seasons and a 42-37-1 (.531) record in the regular season.

Wentz's Problems

During Pederson’s tenure, the Eagles played better in big moments and against good teams when Wentz was not the quarterback. His offense, structured around what he learned from Andy Reid, just looked better with Foles in particular.

Wentz fell in love with trying to make backyard football plays, but he’s lacked the accuracy, consistency, and decision making to have success doing so.

Pederson sat out a year before getting this second chance with Jacksonville and another young quarterback in Trevor Lawrence.

Carson Wentz’s Revenge Game?

I guess Wentz could have some ill will towards Pederson, but he really has himself to blame for things not working out in Philadelphia. They did not work out in Indianapolis last year either, which is why he is starting for his third team in three years.

But if it wasn’t for the Jaguars in Week 18 last year, Wentz is likely still with the Colts. Indianapolis just had to win in Jacksonville as a 15-point favorite to make the playoffs.

Instead, they lost by 15 points in a stunning 26-11 upset that ended their season and Wentz’s time with the team.

That game should give the Jaguars some confidence for this week. Their defense sacked Wentz six times, including a pair of sacks by Josh Allen. He leads a young defense that now has No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker, though he might be a raw rookie this year.

Wentz's Improvement is Unsure

It is hard to say the Commanders are giving Wentz anything better than what he had in Indy last year outside of Terry McLaurin being a bit better of a No. 1 wideout than Michael Pitman. But throwing to outside wide receivers has never been a strength in Wentz’s game.

This could be one of Week 1’s ugliest games, which should only help the Jaguars as an underdog. Jacksonville has lost 35 straight games when it allows more than 20 points.

Trevor Lawrence and the Island of Misfit Toys

While Trevor Lawrence had his share of accuracy problems in his rookie season, the Jaguars did not give him the best set of weapons. In fact, the team thought so little of last year’s receivers that it traded Laviska Shenault and cut Laquon Treadwell, who remains a free agent.

The Jaguars are getting running back Travis Etienne back after he missed his whole rookie season with injury. He played with Lawrence at Clemson and can help as a receiver.

But instead of looking at a deep wide receiver draft for more help for Lawrence, the team loaded up on defenders. They use free agency to address the receiving corps and the moves are really discouraging.

Negative Records

The Jaguars overpaid for wide receiver Christian Kirk from the Cardinals where he was never a leading receiver. They added tight end Evan Engram from the Giants where he was known more for dropped passes than anything. Zay Jones is another wideout without a good track record of success.

This is going to make things difficult on Lawrence and Pederson to field a competent offense. Marvin Jones is a good receiver who led the team last year, but this is not enough to get above league average. It will be a grind for the Jaguars, but at least

Lawrence can say he played the best game of his rookie year in his last against the Colts. He also never took more than 3 sacks in any game.

If he plays it safe and hopes that Wentz takes the risky plays that lead to sacks and turnovers, then the Jaguars should hang around in Washington.

Score Prediction and NFL Picks

Doug Pederson is 5-4 SU and 7-2 ATS as a 3-point underdog or worse in games where Wentz is not his quarterback.

Following the NFL odds, and with the Urban Meyer stink hopefully blown off the team, I think the Jaguars have what it takes to make this one interesting, if not an upset win in Week 1. I’ll take the Jaguars for your NFL picks.

NFL Pick: Jaguars +3 (-110) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Jaguars +3 (-110)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.