London is calling the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 6 of the NFL, for the second of the NFL’s four-game United Kingdom package designed to expand the brand across the pond. A billing between a 1-4 and 0-5 team is rarely a hot ticket item, but a clash between the league’s latest shining football baubles Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence is.
And so, the hype and buzz surrounding this matchup escalates to the point of obscuring inherent realities about both these developing franchises. Things like the growing divide between Jacksonville’s head coach Urban Meyer and his players, the Jaguars’ 20-game losing streak going back to Week 2 of last season, Tua Tagovailoa’s offensive struggles … and so on.
All these facts and their laden implications have been overlooked entirely, brushed under the carpet as news of Tagovailoa coming off the injury reserve (IR) list was announced this week. On the heels of that announcement, the NFL odds received an instant boost, and nowhere more so than in the game total betting markets.
Books went to press with the game total projected to 43 points, but it skyrocketed to 47 with most online sports betting sites the moment Tua looked likely to start Week 6 against the Jaguars. And start he will.
The four-point jump is considerable, make no mistake. And it raises the question of whether the return of Miami’s starter actually warrants the spike?
Tagovailoa’s Offensive Woes
It’s a fortuitous twist for the Miami Dolphins that Tagovailoa’s return from injury comes precisely at this time — not to mention it saves London’s NFL fans from having to experience the less-than-desirable backup play of Jacoby Brissett. How well Tagovailoa performs though is another matter entirely.
The Dolphins won their only game this season with Tagovailoa at the helm of the offense, but it was hardly a scoring bonanza or any kind of offensive delight. The Dolphins barely eked out the 17-16 victory over the New England Patriots in Week 1.
Before anyone could get a measure of Tagovailoa, his season was halted abruptly the following week as he left Miami’s game against the Buffalo Bills with a rib injury.
Tua Tagovailoa, throwing pic.twitter.com/AjmKDeJPAk
— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) October 13, 2021
Brissett, the veteran signal-caller, has led the Dolphins offense in Tagovailoa’s absence and three of the last four games went over the closing totals on the NFL odds board. However, while Brissett was able to move the chains and put up the points better than Tagovailoa, he didn’t deliver wins.
Tagovailoa’s offensive struggles go back to his rookie season. The offense looked labored whenever he was the offensive pivot and his stats were underwhelming. To date, he has 12 touchdowns to six interceptions and an 85.8 rating. He’s been sacked 24 times in 12 games played.
Jaguars Searching For First Win
Lawrence’s introduction to the NFL hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. The redevelopment project that is going on in Jacksonville, a head coach that is clearly out of his depth, and general inexperience are some of the reasons behind his growing pains.
It doesn’t help his case either when his coach throws him under the bus or calls him out for the Jaguars’ offensive woes. But let’s not get bogged down with these squabbles, confusing though they might be.
As things stand, the Jaguars can’t seem to buy a win no matter how hard they try. And this negative trend dates back to last year, when the Jaguars went on a spectacular 15-game losing streak to clinch the No.1 draft pick that ultimately delivered Lawrence to Jacksonville.
The Jaguars are winless in five games and only two cracked the over in total betting — a 37-21 loss to the Houston Texans in Week 1 and a 37-19 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 5.
Lawrence has shown flashes of the kind of brilliance that led him to become the Chosen One in the 2021 NFL draft, but he’s not exactly blowing anyone’s socks off.
He ranks 26th overall amongst starting quarterbacks with 1,146 passing yards. He’s scored six touchdowns, thrown eight interceptions and was sacked eight times in his five starts. His rating is an underwhelming 71.3, which puts him at the bottom of the league’s quarterback table.
NFL Picks and Predictions
Take away the noise, the buzz and the hype, and you’re left with an underwhelming matchup between a couple of franchises that are still in the development and rebuilding phase behind young quarterbacks with steep learning curves ahead of them. Expecting this game to turn into a shootout would be a stretch for NFL picks.
Both are struggling in a variety of different ways while neither offense inspires confidence. Tagovailoa’s return is good news for Miami, but that doesn’t mean he’s 100% fit.
Let’s not forget traveling to London, the occasion and experience, the size of Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium, it’s all bound to be overwhelming.
Thus, no matter which way you split this on the moneyline and NFL picks against the spread, the under has to be the play on the total.