With a few breaks, the Jacksonville Jaguars could very well be 4-0 in the short tenure of Gardner Minshew as starting quarterback. With a pair of games ahead against bottom feeders (at Cincinnati and home against the Jets) they’ll have plenty of focus as the New Orleans Saints come to town without starting quarterback Drew Brees. The AFC South is there for the taking with all four teams separated by a single game. If Jacksonville can get some momentum with their solid defense and new quarterback they’ve got as good of a shot as anyone to win the divisional title.
New Orleans has won three straight games with Teddy Bridgewater under center in place of injured Drew Brees. Bridgewater is coming off of his best performance as a pro but that had a lot to do with the situational matchup facing a miserable Bucs secondary at home. Before that, he started two games and came on in relief on 9/15 at the Rams and threw for 165, 177 and 193 yards. Much of their success has been the performance of running back Alvin Kamara who has been downgraded to ‘questionable’ after sitting out Friday’s practice. The word on the street is that it was precautionary but it’s not a good sign.
This could be a classic ‘letdown spot’ for the Saints and Bridgewater. The team has gone through a phalanx of tough games (at Seattle, @ LA Rams and home against Dallas) along with a divisional game against Tampa Bay and they’ve got a 10/20 game against Chicago on deck. A non-conference game isn’t going to motivate them to the same degree. Saints are on a 4-9 ATS run off a divisional game and a 4-5 ATS run in non-conference play. Granted, Jacksonville has been horrible in non-conference play over the past few years (2-7 ATS L3 years) but much of that happened during the tenure of Blake Bortles.
New Orleans has had to have a lot of things ‘go right’ this year to be at 4-1. They have an average winning margin of 4 PPG and they’ve got a negative points differential for the season (albeit a -1 point) scoring 115 and allowing 116. If Kamara can’t go or is limited, Bridgewater could be running for his life from a fearsome Jags’ pass rush and that sets the table perfectly for the Gardner Minshew legend to continue to grow in Jacksonville.