The NFL season rolls on into Week 7 with the Jacksonville Jaguars coming into New Orleans to play Derek Carr and the Saints on a short week. We’ll take a look at this one with a watchful eye, considering the health of the two quarterbacks.
The Saints are coming off a 20-13 road loss to the Texans, playing in a back-to-back road spot which can be difficult for any team. It was another disappointing showing for their offense, despite outgaining the Texans 430 to 297 in total yardage.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Saints missed a field goal, then could not convert 4th and 4 and the HOU 15 on the next drive, and finally Carr threw an interception in the end zone looking for a game tying touchdown with a minute left. This 3-3 Saints team could have easily had a different outcome should the ball have bounced their way on a handful of plays in this one.
Their offense is a confusing one to wrap your head around, given the lack of output, despite the relatively high level of the skill position players and an upgrade at QB in Derek Carr. Carr did injure his shoulder in Week 4, which may have had some lingering impact on the recent weeks, but at this point it’s expected that he’s healthy enough to play.
The biggest problem for the Saints has been Carr’s accuracy. The Saints had been a victim of a “dink and dunk” offense under Andy Dalton in 2022, where they weren’t pushing the ball down the field. Carr, on the other hand, is pushing the number averaging almost 10 yards on his average depth of target (aDOT).
The problem looks to be his accuracy, as he suffers from the lowest on target% (according to Football Reference) of any starting QB in the league. With injury woes behind him, I’m hopeful Carr can at least return to career average accuracy, which would tremendously impact this Saints offense.
On the Jags side, we have some concern over Trevor Lawrence’s knee. Lawrence exited their victory against the Colts after being sacked late in the fourth quarter. Lawrence’s MRI was negative and the team has stated that it’s unlikely he’s suffered a “major injury”.
While that is positive news for Lawrence and the Jaguars, coming into a short week against a tough Saints defense, the books are already shading this line towards the Saints. This one opened up at PK/Saints -1 on Monday morning but has gotten out to -3. I think the opening line was close to fair given the Jags injury question marks aside from Lawrence and the potential for a “let down spot”.
I bet the Saints at -1, but would still consider a bet at -3, especially if Lawrence is confirmed to be out. Should Lawrence sit, the Jaguars will turn to CJ Beathard at QB. I’ll tell you one thing for sure, the drop-off from Lawrence to Beathard is worth a lot more than two points and I’d expect this line to be on the move if that gets confirmed.
Especially difficult for the Jags should they roll out Beathard or a banged-up Lawrence, is this Saints defense. The Saints have recorded the 7th best defensive DVOA in 2023, keeping their team afloat with the offensive struggle.
The Saints rank 7th in PFF’s run defense grade and are 5th in expected points added by run defense. Travis Etienne has been on fire in the Jags past two games and the Saints will likely make it a focus to stop him.
For tracking purposes, we’ll play Saints -3 (1%), however, I’d watch this line carefully as it pertains to Lawrence’s health. Even if he does go, I think the Saints are the side here but we’ll look to be auspicious in our line shopping.