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2023 NFL Week 7 Betting Preview: Jacksonville Jaguars at New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis and quarterback Derek Carr

Jaguars (4-2) at Saints (3-3)

Spread: Saints -1

Total: 39.5

Weather: Indoor venue

Line Report

The spread for this contest opened as New Orleans Saints +1, before quickly jumping to Saints -3. On Tuesday afternoon, it fell down to Saints -1. Trevor Lawrence’s status for Thursday night is up in the air, which has driven these line movements.

The total for this contest opened at 41.5 points but has since fallen down to 39.5 points.

Saints Offense vs. Jaguars Defense

The Saints have accumulated a lot of yards in several games this year, but they’ve struggled to finish drives. They’ve scored more than 20 points in only one of their six games.

Part of the reason for that is Derek Carr played through three games with a throwing shoulder injury. In those first two outings against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots, it was evident the injury limited Carr on downfield throws. Last week in Houston, Carr looked more like his old self, passing for 353 yards. Based on his Week 6 performance, expect Carr to have minor limitations Thursday night.

In the two games Carr was noticeably hampered in, Chris Olave saw 11 combined targets for just 16 receiving yards. In the other four games, Olave saw double-digit targets in each matchup with at least 86 receiving yards. Olave led the team in receiving yards in all four of those contests. Regardless of Carr’s status, Michael Thomas has between 45 and 65 receiving yards with between six and nine targets per game. Speedster Rashid Shaheed is a spike game player with volatile usage that depends on big plays. Carr’s improving injury situation is a positive for Shaheed. The Jacksonville Jaguars have allowed the sixth-most receiving yards to wide receivers.

Tight end Juwan Johnson averaged four targets a game during his three healthy contests. In Johnson’s absence last week, Foster Moreau had four targets, while Taysom Hill had eight. Jacksonville has given up the fifth-most receiving yards to tight ends.

Since his Week 4 return, Alvin Kamara has at least 24 touches in each of his three games. Kamara has at least 19 carries in two games. He also has at least eight targets in two games. The Jaguars have allowed the seventh-most receiving yards to running backs.

The Saints' offensive line has struggled, and a number of their starters are on the injury report early this week. If offensive tackles Ryan Ramczyk and James Hurst miss this contest, the Jaguars have a talented edge duo that could exploit those voids.

Jaguars Offense vs. Saints Defense

How this game plays boils down to Lawrence’s availability. If he misses this contest, C.J. Beathard is a below-average backup in a difficult matchup. If Lawrence plays, the Jaguars are live against any opponent in the league.

Travis Etienne is sixth in the league in rushing yards and tied for sixth in rushing touchdowns. He’s also sixth among running backs in receiving yards.

Christian Kirk leads Calvin Ridley in targets, receptions, receiving yards and target share. They are tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns with two. Ridley has a 40.3 percent air yards share to Kirk’s 27.6 percent mark. Tight end Evan Engram’s 21.2 percent target share is tied with Ridley for second-best on the team. Engram has at least seven targets in each of his last five games.

What You’re Betting On

Whether or not Lawrence plays determines how this game plays out.

If Carr has no setbacks with his right throwing shoulder, he’s a solid but unspectacular NFL passer. That makes him capable of carving up the Jaguars beatable pass defense. If Lawrence plays, Carr is capable of keeping up with him in this matchup. But if Lawrence misses this contest, a Saints bet is primarily a bet against Beathard.

If you’re betting on the Jaguars, you are betting on Lawrence to play with few limitations. In that outcome, a win in New Orleans on a short week isn’t out of the question. If you’re betting on Jacksonville with Beathard, you are effectively betting on a below-average quarterback against a top-10 defense in one of the most challenging road environments in football.

Score Prediction with Lawrence: Saints 24, Jaguars 23

Score Prediction without Lawrence: Saints 24, Jaguars 13

Ryan’s Recent Betting Record

ATS 2021: 49-31

ATS 2022: 48-32

ATS 2023: 15-15

Props 2022: 60-40

Props 2023: 14-9

Ryan is the associate director of fantasy and betting at The 33rd Team. Ryan has been covering NFL betting markets for five years. Follow Ryan @RyanReynoldsNFL on TwitterInstagram or Facebook