With No. 1 overall draft pick Trevor Lawrence and legendary college coach Urban Meyer making their NFL debuts on Saturday all eyes will be on the Jacksonville Jaguars when they host the Cleveland Browns in the preseason opener. The two will forever be linked and the fortunes of the Jags are riding on the pair. Rarely do former college coaches succeed in the NFL, but Meyer is no regular Joe. And Lawrence has been groomed for this since his Pop Warner days. The future looks bright for the Jags and it starts this weekend.
The Week 1 NFL preseason game between the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars will take place at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 14, and will be televised on NFL Network.
Browns vs Jaguars Spread
Browns +3 | Jacksonville Jaguars -3 [BET NOW]
Browns vs Jaguars Money Line
Browns +140 | Jacksonville Jaguars -160 [BET NOW]
Browns vs Jaguars Over/Under
Over/Under: 36.5 [BET NOW]
In most preseason games the home team is listed as the favorite. Positioning the Jags at -3 was much easier when the Browns announced Baker Mayfield and a bunch of other starters wouldn’t play. With a new regime in Jacksonville there’s a clean slate with training camp and exhibition games a way for players to audition for a roster spot.
And after going 1-15 last season to “earn” the No. 1 draft pick there are plenty of openings. Meyer even stated the starting QB job is open to competition with Lawrence and Gardner Minshew expected to get reps on Saturday. One thing about wagering on preseason games is you should know who the quarterbacks are.
For the first time in years the Browns have a settled roster, at least on offense with all 11 starters returning. And coming off an 11-win season and first playoff appearance since 2002 Kevin Stefanski isn’t going to do anything in his first preseason game to mess that up. It turned out the Browns didn’t need exhibition games last season so I doubt the coach will put a lot of weight in the outcome.
The team already announced that Mayfield wouldn’t play leaving veteran Case Keenum to fill the void. And with Kyle Lauletta the only other QB currently on the roster there are plenty of snaps for those two. Keenum gives the team a nice security blanket at the position. He’s a former starter who had a magnificent run with the Vikings in 2017. He played just two games with the Browns last season and there is no reason to risk any damage. That means we’ll probably see a lot of Lauletta, who has played in just two regular season games with more interceptions than completions.
The Browns do have some questions on the defensive side of the football with a number of position battles taking place and several newcomers in the secondary. I expect they will try and make things as difficult as possible on the Jags with a variety of different packages to try and confuse Lawrence.
Just a few years ago the Jags were playing for a trip to the Super Bowl with things looking good for the franchise. In 2017 they posted their first winning record and playoff appearance in a decade, erasing the memory of the miserable seasons in between. Well, they returned to their pathetic ways the last three years winning a total of 12 games prompting another organizational shakeup.
For as bad as they’ve been for much of their existence you’d expect that the Jags would have had the No. 1 overall pick before. Well, Lawrence is the first, and for the most part the team has been good with its top choices. This one is different, though. Lawrence was the projected top pick for his last two years at Clemson where all he did was win. Maybe that’s why Meyer was hired to give a college feel to Jags’ camp.
Meyer said the QB1 job is open to competition, but we all know that’s not the case. As long as Lawrence can stand up and throw the ball he’s behind center when the bell rings. Meyer will use all the tools to make both players better, and pitting them against each other is a way of doing that. Competition for the job is a good thing and both players will get snaps to show off.
Browns at Jaguars Prediction
Our picks: Jacksonville Jaguars -3 and UNDER 36.5
It’s important for the Jags to have a good start with Lawrence and Meyer putting the motivation for winning on their side, and that’s a key when wagering on preseason games. It doesn’t always mean a victory, but the Browns are treating this more like a glorified scrimmage and will have trouble scoring points. A new era of Jags football is underway and it gets started with a cover victory on Saturday.
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