Blake Bortles will not be starting QB for Jaguars

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Last season, the Jaguars had the lowest power rating we have ever seen on an NFL team.

The sports books knew they were going to be bad and even added an extra premium to make up for the public appeal of betting against them, like when the Broncos were 27-point favorites in Week 6. The Jaguars would lose their first eight games and the only game they covered over that span was against the Broncos when they fell 35-19.

Things evened out after that as Jacksonville would win and cover three of their next four and finished up 4-3-1 ATS in the final eight games. Part of the reason for the success is QB Chad Henne was finally acclimated as the starter after going through training camp and the preseason as the back-up to 2011 first-round draft choice Blaine Gabbert (now with SF).

Gabbert was the future, or so the team wanted their fans to believe, but a laceration on his hand in the opener required 15 stitches. When Gabbert came back in Week 4 against the Colts, he tossed three interceptions in a 37-3 home loss. After being ineffective the next week at St. Louis, he was yanked and Henne took over for good.

Even though the Jaguars drafted Blake Bortles with the No. 3 pick in last week’s NFL Draft, Henne has already been named the starter by new coach Gus Bradley, who shaped the Seahawks defense into Super Bowl champions. With Henne now being the main man throughout training camp, and the defense getting a major philosophical change and face-lift, there’s no reason to believe this team can’t win at least six games in 2014.

You may say “big deal, they’re still going to miss the playoffs” and that’s probably true, but when looking at season win totals at the South Point, the Jaguars are listed at 4.5 (OV -125) wins, the lowest number of any team. Jacksonville definitely won’t be as bad as last season, and that team managed to win four games.

In addition to getting rid of Gabbert, some of their other changes for the better in addition to the new coach, was bringing in Chris Clemons and Red Bryant from Seattle’s defense line, Denver guard Zane Beadles and Minnesota RB Toby Gerhart. They also re-signed key existing free-agents such as Henne, CB Will Blackmon and DR Jason Babin. Add in a dynamic Southern Cal WR Marqise Lee from the draft, along with some others who should contribute right away, and 2014 looks promising for Jacksonville.

Thunder playing 2-on-5

The OKC duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant have been amazing in the series against the Clippers. When they are on, it’s an impressive sight. But when things aren’t going so good, there is no back-up plan. No other player is ready to step up.

Even when things are going bad, Durant and Westbrook still chuck the balls up and rarely give one of their teammates a chance to show they can play as well.

Westbrook is averaging 26.3 points (43% FG) and 8.3 assists per game in the playoffs, but most of those dishes are to Durant in their two-man game. Durant leads all players in the playoffs with 31.1 ppg and should be the focal point of the team, like he was when Westbrook was out for a 27 game stretch through mid-February.

Should the point guard of a team who is responsible for getting everyone else involved always be in the shoot first mode? The worst part of this duo is the turnovers. Westbrook leads the playoffs with 50 turnovers in 11 games through Sunday, while Durant is second with 45 (8 in Game 4). The next closest player in the turnover category is the Spurs’ Tony Parker with 32, who is the model of what a point guard should be.

They may be able to knock the Clippers out, but it’s hard to see this team advancing past anyone else without the entire team being involved. I look back to Michael Jordan in his first six years before winning six NBA titles. He was a one man wrecking crew, but he didn’t win until he started trusting his teammates – all four of them – on the floor with him.

It was all about getting the best open shot, and once those players gained their confidence of feeling a part of the team they became one of the best teams of all-time, complemented by the best player of all-time who still was able to incorporate his high-scoring game. Jordan by himself was continually beaten by team-concept squads like the Celtics and Pistons.

The window is closing on Durant and Westbrook’s chance to take that next step as teammates hoisting a trophy, and until they figure things out, that opportunity will pass. Because OKC played at their absolute best this season when Westbrook was out with Reggie Jackson running the point, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Thunder give up on the duo and trade Westbrook if this season doesn’t end well.

Westbrook’s best option would be to go to a team and be a two-guard and main scorer. Chemistry is everything and sometimes oil and water don’t mix.

Busy book

The LVH Super Book already has lines posted on Week 1 of the NFL, as well as 80 Games of the Year. Last Sunday they released their odds to win each division. The Broncos are 2-to-7 (-350) to win the AFC West – the most lopsided odds, while the Seahawks (10/11) and 49ers (6/5) have the tightest split in the battle to win the NFC West.

This Sunday, they’ll release their season win totals, which should be interesting because CG Technologies (better known as Cantor Gaming) and the South Point have had them posted since March. When those LVH numbers are posted, there will be some major shifting around town as bettors will be searching for middles and scalps, or just a preferred number.

Don’t expect market numbers, either. The LVH numbers will definitely have some opinions placed within them and they’ll be bet accordingly until all the numbers around town are moved one way or the other until being similar.

I always felt the bettors had a huge edge with this, one of the better edges they have all year on the sports book wagering menu. By tying up two sides with a half-game edge at relatively low juice, the chances are more likely to win one and push on the other than any other type of future wager just because of so few games in the NFL.

You can basically say, for the most part, every team is 4-4 and it’s what they do in those eight other games that make the difference. The numbers the books post are the most likely of scenarios. Getting that half game is huge.

As soon as all those numbers are posted, Super Book assistant manager Jeff Sherman will be getting all his proper football propositions posted for the May 24 Champions League Final where Real Madrid is a 175 favorite to win outright against Atletico Madrid (+155). The Spaniards are going to pay big Euros to find their way into the Esatdio Da Luz in Lisbon, Portugal. Expect Sherman to post up to 20 props on the big event.

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].

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