NFL betting: Urban Meyer and the Jaguars have been bad, but are we overreacting?

·4 min read

College coaches generally aren't received well in the NFL. A coach who got his NFL jobs because of nepotism can fail five times and still get more chances, as long as he has NFL lineage. College coaches need to win right away or they're laughed out of the league. 

So it's not really a surprise that the Urban Meyer experiment with the Jacksonville Jaguars is getting scorn. To be fair, Meyer deserves most of the jokes at his expense. And his team has looked woefully awful in the preseason. 

Bettors aren't looking for "caption this" memes or easy jokes. They're looking for angles. And with the season coming up fast we have to ask the question: Is the perception of the Jaguars out of control based on dumb Meyer quotes and meaningless preseason games, or is Jacksonville really this bad? 

Jaguars have looked poor

Again, Meyer has earned a lot of the criticism. You know of the reasons, and if you don't I went through many in my Jaguars preview. Since then Meyer has been at it some more, including nonsensically claiming No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence is competing against Gardner Minshew II for the starting quarterback job (it's possible Meyer really believes this is a competition, which would be even worse). 

But that's noise to pass the time before our fantasy drafts and games that count. From a betting perspective, Meyer signing Tim Tebow to play tight end doesn't really matter. It's just something for everyone to talk about. In fact, smart bettors use overreactions to their advantage. Especially with the ever-popular NFL where everything is blown out of proportion. 

It will be hard to find any positive vibes about the Jaguars. They just looked bad on Monday night in a nationally televised game. Meyer keeps fueling all the jokes on social media about the Jaguars' experiment. 

The Jaguars are 3-point favorites in Week 1 against a Houston Texans team that should be the worst in the NFL. The Jaguars' win total is 6.5, and over is +100 odds. They're +650 to win the AFC South, if you want to get crazy. 

The best time to bet on a team is when public perception is low, and it can't get much lower for Urban Meyer and the Jaguars. But, maybe they're really bad. 

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Urban Meyer hasn't impressed so far

The Jaguars haven't looked good at all in the preseason. Presumably Meyer understands things like that when games count, first-round pick Travis Etienne (when healthy, he suffered a foot injury Monday night) should play over Carlos Hyde. Maybe these are all smokescreens because Meyer doesn't want to show anything. Meyer has already lamented that the Jaguars aren't going to show anything in terms of scheme in the preseason and aren't playing at their preferred pace in games that don't count. Let's assume what we've seen in two preseason games isn't really what we'll see Week 1. 

However, it also takes a leap of faith to bet the Jaguars in Week 1, or over their win total. It's a team that got lucky to win in Week 1 last season, then lost their last 15. Meyer has never coached an NFL game and Trevor Lawrence has never played in one. Meyer's quotes and decisions make for easy punch lines, but they are alarming. All of them should raise questions over whether Meyer has any idea what he's getting into. But Meyer can also make them all disappear by doing what he always did in college: win games. 

As the drumbeat continues on Meyer and the Jaguars leading up to the season opener, it's possible the line for Week 1 against the Texans dips and odds on season win totals and other team-related props get longer. I'll still take the Jaguars in Week 1 and won't abandon the idea of them being much better than we think. But it gets harder every time we see the Jaguars play in the preseason, or listen to Meyer's quotes about the NFL. 

What can we expect from Urban Meyer and the Jaguars? (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
What can we expect from Urban Meyer and the Jaguars? (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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