Week 2 NFL Preseason Picks: Saints vs. Jaguars: August 17th 2012
Week 2 NFL Preseason Picks: August 17th 2012
New Orleans Saints vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Current line: New Orleans (-6.5/39)
Jacksonville visits the Superdome in New Orleans for a Friday night matchup at 8pmET. These two teams played in the regular season last year with the Saints winning 23-10, giving 7 at home (45 total). The Saints have played two games thus far and are 2-0 SU, while Jacksonville is coming off a 32-31 win over the New York Giants last Friday, laying 2 points.
Jacksonville is coming off a 5-11 SU season, and they were 7-9 ATS and 5-11 Under. Last year, they went 0-1-3 ATS in the preseason. Mike Mularkey is 3-5 SU with Buffalo, 3-5 ATS and 5-3 Over. New Orleans is coming off a 13-3 SU season, where they also went 12-4 ATS and 9-7 O/U. Last year, they went 2-2 ATS in the preseason. Coaching this game will be Joe Vitt, taking over for Sean Payton, who is suspended this season
The Jags are looking for more offense under new coach Mike Mularkey. They had the worst passing offense (136.2ypg) in the NFL last year. Blaine Gabbert had his struggles as a rookie. They did pick up Chad Henne from Miami to push him. They also added former Giants corner Aaron Ross, to improve the secondary. WR Justin Blackmon should add talent to a dreadful receiving corps. RB Maurice Jones-Drew is holding out for a new deal.
The offense did produce more in last Friday’s 32-31 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. The Jaguars amassed a very respectable 356 total yards and rushed for 156 yards, numbers made even more impressive considering they came without the services of 2011 rushing champion Maurice-Jones Drew and highly touted rookie receiver Justin Blackmon.
Rashard Jennings gained a game- high 56 yards on 12 carries, while wideouts Mike Thomas and Brian Robiskie helped offset Blackmon’s absence by combining for 161 yards and a touchdown on 11 catches. Robiskie recorded seven receptions for 72 yards while hauling in a short scoring strike from No. 2 quarterback Chad Henne, with Thomas compiling 89 yards on four grabs on the evening.
Gabbert made a contribution as well in his first effort off a trying rookie season, with the 2011 first-round pick directing a 13-play, 89-yard touchdown drive on Jacksonville’s first possession. He capped the series with a three-yard connection with Cecil Shorts and ended his night 5-of-10 for 62 yards.
Jones-Drew remains away from the team due to dissatisfaction over his current contract, but Blackmon is set to make his anticipated pro debut in Friday’s tilt. The fifth overall choice of this past draft had a delayed start to his career due to a holdout of his own that kept the two-time Biletnikoff Award winner out for nearly the first two weeks of camp.
The Saints headed home for Friday’s clash with the Jaguars seeking to get their normally potent offense on track after a sluggish showing at New England. New Orleans, which set a new NFL standard with 5,476 passing yards during last year’s 13-3 campaign, mustered a pedestrian 280 yards total while committing a pair of turnovers in its 7-6 loss to the Patriots, the team’s second outing without mastermind head coach Sean Payton on the sidelines.
Even with Payton suspended for the entire 2012 schedule for his knowledge of and indifference to the Saints’ scandalous bounty program, last week’s struggles still aren’t raising much concern entering the club’s first Superdome appearance of this preseason. Record-setting quarterback Drew Brees played in only two series against New England, though the defending NFL Offensive Player of the Year managed a mere four passing yards on a 1-of-4 night, while All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham (back), wide receiver Devery Henderson (hamstring) and running back Mark Ingram (knee) were all inactive due to injuries.
Brees, who led the offense to a touchdown in his only drive in New Orleans’ 17-10 win over Arizona in the Aug. 5 Hall of Fame Game, should receive considerably more snaps in this one, with the starting unit excepted to play all or most of the first half. Graham may be held out another week, however, while playmaking running Darren Sproles will miss the contest with a sore knee.
The Saints also won’t have their usual depth at wide receiver, with Adrian Arrington (knee) and rookie fourth-round pick Nick Toon (foot) still rehabbing injuries that have kept them out of both preseason games. Their unavailability has enabled veteran Courtney Roby to make a push for the No. 4 spot in the rotation, with the return specialist coming through with a five-catch, 85-yard output against the Patriots that followed a four-reception, 54-yard night in the Hall of Fame Game.
On the defensive side, cornerback Jabari Greer continues to be sidelined from recent sports hernia surgery, but opposite-side starter Patrick Robinson (shoulder) could be ready to return from his two-game absence.
Key Injuries: Jacksonville: CBDerek Cox (calf) is out. G Will Rackley (ankle), DE Austen Lane (ankle) and TE Zach Miller (pectorals) also among those out for this week’s game. New Orleans: CB Jabari Greer (groin) is out. WR Nick Toon (foot) is ? RB Darren Sproles (knee) is out. CB Patrick Robinson (shldr) is ?
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