The Falcons have also taken control of the regular-season series with the Jaguars. As is the case in preseason play, Altanta has won the last two games from Jacksonville, one at home and one on the road. They were decisive 41-14 winners at Atlanta in 2011 and took a 23-17 verdict in Jacksonville during the 2015 season. The Falcons have won three of the last four regular-season meetings with the Jaguars, although the all-time series is deadlocked at three wins apiece. Atlanta leads 117-106 on the scoreboard.
Perhaps when they get together, the Falcons and Jaguars players can commiserate over the heartbreak of not being able to hold on against the New England Patriots in the NFL postseason. Last season, the Jaguars held a 20-10 fourth-quarter lead over the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, only to squander their advantage and lose 24-20 on a pair of Tom Brady to Danny Amendola touchdown passes in the final 8:44 of the fourth quarter.
The Falcons looked to be well on their way to victory in Super Bowl LI when they took a 28-3 lead over the Patriots midway through the third quarter. At that point, computer predictions estimated Atlanta's chance at victory to be 99.8 percent. But it was not to be. The Patriots scored 31 unanswered points and won the game 34-28 on a two-yard touchdown run by James White in overtime. That was the largest comeback win in Super Bowl history and the third-largest comeback victory in NFL playoff history.
How Low Can They Go? - Don't hold your breath waiting for the slugfest to break out. When the Falcons play the Jaguars in the preseason, it's all about the defensive struggle. You've got to go back 11 games to find a contest where both teams finished the night with more than 20 points. It was also the only time in the series that either team got over 30, and the Jags barely did that, scoring 31 in a 31-20 victory in 2000. In three of the last six games, neither team got to 20 points.
The Falcons have averaged 13.75 points per game in their last eight preseason games against the Jaguars, getting over 20 points once in the last eight games, a 24-14 win in 2014. The Jaguars have proven to be a bit more productive, accounting for an average of 19 points per game in the last six preseason games against the Falcons. The average total in the last 10 Falcons-Jaguars preseason games is 33.4. The average total in the last six Jaguars-Falcons preseason games at Jacksonville is 32.1.
It doesn't get much more explosive when these two teams clash during the regular season. Five of the last six Falcons-Jaguars games have gone under. The first four Atlanta-Jacksonville regular-season meetings all finished with totals of 37 or less, including a 13-7 Jaguars victory in 2007 where the total wasn't just under, it was submerged. Maybe there's a glimmer of hope on the horizon, though. The last two Jaguars-Falcons meetings have seen the total get to 40 both times, with the average output being 47.5 points per game.
Blake The Fake? - What's a guy got to do to get a little love around here? Okay, maybe not blowing a fourth-quarter lead with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line would help out a bit, but even though Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles got Jacksonville to within a win of the big game last season, he's not being given much chance of doing anything spectacular by the online sportsbooks. Bovada puts the odds of Bortles leading the NFL in passing yardage at +7500, tied for 20th-best with Cincinnati's Andy Dalton.
Bortles is situated at odds of +10000 to be named the NFL's MVP, which puts him behind sophomore Chicago QB Mitchell Trubisky (+7000) and dead even with Houston defensive lineman J.J. Watt. His Jaguars teammate, running back Leonard Fournette, is placed at odds of +7000 to earn the MVP honors. Bovada isn't even offering odds on Bortles leading the league in TD passes, but Bortles is given odds of +3300 to lead the NFL in interceptions.
Running Away With It - After a rookie season in which he gained 1040 yards on the ground, Fournette is pegged by Bovada to be one of the top contenders to lead the NFL in rushing yardage in 2018. The sportsbook has Fournette listed at odds of +850, making the sophomore runner the fifth betting choice. Not far behind at odds of +2800 and the 11th betting choice is Falcons running back Devonta Freeman. Fournette was eighth in the NFL in rushing in 2017, while Freeman finished 17th with 865 yards on the ground.
Keeping Up With Jones - Atlanta's Julio Jones is one of the real favorites to lead the NFL in receiving yardage in 2018. Placed at odds of +500 by Bovada, Jones trails only defending champion Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers on the board. Jones was second to Brown last season with 1444 yards. In 2015, Jones recorded 1871 yards on the end of balls thrown by Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to lead the league in receiving yardage that season, the first Falcon to do so since Alfred Jenkins in 1981.
Jones is also listed at +7500 in Bovada's NFL MVP future book. Freeman is set at odds of +10000 in here, while you can get odds of +2200 on Ryan, the 2016 MVP of the NFL.
The Other Matt - While Ryan gets most of the Matt attention on the Falcons, there's another big producer in Atlanta named Matt who just might be worth a wager this season. Kicker Matt Bryant finished eighth in the NFL in scoring during the 2017 campaign, accumulating 137 points. But during Atlanta's run to the Super Bowl in 2016, Bryant was a huge part of the Falcons' record-breaking offense, accounting for a league-leading 158 points. Betway lists Bryant as their third betting choice to lead the NFL in kicking points at +900.
Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo is listed as the co-15th choice in the betting at odds of +5000.