Battle of the backups. New Orleans is cooking now behind QB Teddy Bridgewater. The Jags are doing well with rookie QB Gardner Minshew. The Saints are the more solid team.
Teddy Bridgewater is doing a fine job filling in for Drew Brees and that will continue on Sunday. The Jaguars are coming off back-to-back-road games in Denver and Carolina and have to be worn down a little after two very physical battles. Take the Saints.
Bridgewater also will have some local support back in his home state, balancing out the magic that comes with Gardner Minshew playing in Jacksonville. Look for the Saints to get it done, per usual with plenty of Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas and more swarming defense to complement them.
The Saints are still one of the NFL’s best teams with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. New Orleans shouldn’t be an underdog against a team that likely isn’t going to the playoffs. Jacksonville’s defense isn’t what it once was, ranking 26th in opponents’ yards per play. The Jaguars will struggle to slow down Alvin Kamara a week after Christian McCaffrey had his way with them.
The Saints have Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 pass-blocking grade and No. 8 pass-rushing grade. That travels. It also feels like Sean Payton should be able to replicate some of Christian McCaffrey’s success versus Jacksonville (233 total yards) with Alvin Kamara this week.
Jacksonville’s defense was a mess last week thanks to blown assignments and just an overall lack of discipline. The unit bounced back well earlier this season after similar issues, but those victories came against the Titans and Broncos, neither of whom can match what the Saints do offensively.
A pair of inconsistent teams that have gotten surprisingly great production out of backup quarterbacks face off in Jacksonville, and there isn’t a harder game to predict. Averaged out over several games, these teams are similar, but on a game-by-game basis this could be a blowout in either direction.
The Jaguars defense was awful last week against the Panthers, but I think they bounce back at home here. The Saints have been good with Teddy Bridgewater, but I think this is where that stops.
Fun game. The Jaguars (2-3) are living the Gardner Minshew fever dream. The Saints (4-1) were expected to capsize when Drew Brees tore a thumb ligament, but Teddy Bridgewater has become a great story in 2019. Jacksonville needs the game, though, and Minshew makes is happen.
Jacksonville’s 2-3 record does not match its efficiency, as the Jaguars arguably outplayed their opponents in each of their last two losses. They’ve recovered only 26 percent of fumbles, which is bound to regress. Buy low on the Jaguars while it’s still an option.
Jacksonville averages the most yards per carry in the NFL this year and Gardner Minshew generally does a great job in protecting the football. He only has one interception in 165 pass attempts. The Saints have won three straight with Teddy Bridgewater, but they have a negative yards per play differential.
This feels like a letdown spot for the Saints. They come out of a rough scheduling spot of tough teams or divisional rivals to face a Jaguars team that will be tough to get up for. Remember when it seemed the Saints would be in good shape if they went 3-3 without Drew Brees? Well, they’ve already got the three wins without him. Jalen Ramsey’s status is crucial here though, because he is one of the few cornerbacks who can reasonably cover Michael Thomas.