Embattled punching bag Mark Sanchez will get the start Saturday when the New York Jets host the Jacksonville Jaguars (7:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network) in a preseason battle between teams with major question marks.
The Jets announced Sanchez as the starter Wednesday. It appears to be a default decision by Jets coach Rex Ryan, who described rookie quarterback Geno Smith’s practice performance as “brutal.” Smith was expected to challenge Sanchez for the starting role.
Sanchez did not distinguish himself from Smith in the Jets’ opening preseason loss to Detroit. He completed 10 of 13 passes, but also threw an ugly interception on a screen pass that was returned for a touchdown. It was the latest Sanchez folly to have critics cackling.
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Jacksonville, of course, doesn’t have any room to point fingers at others’ issues. The Jaguars are considered the longest shots in the league to reach the playoffs and were annihilated 27-3 by Miami in their first preseason game. Jacksonville turned the ball over four times in the loss.
The Jaguars will have Maurice Jones-Drew back for the first time since the star running back injured his foot in October. Coach Gus Bradley has said he wants to give MJD playing time this week, and after the first-team offense’s struggles last week, don’t be surprised to see a lot more time for the starters.
The early action was on the Jaguars. The Jets opened as 3.5-point favorites, but the line had shrunk to -2.5 as of Thursday. The total grew from 37 to 38.5 early in the week.
Ryan is 6-11 against the spread in the preseason with the Jets.
Odds & Ends
The Packers will try to rebound from getting shut out 17-0 by the Cardinals last week when they travel to St. Louis to face the Rams. 21 of Mike McCarthy’s 29 preseason games with the Packers have gone OVER the total.
The RG3-less Redskins host the Steelers on Monday night. Washington coach Mike Shanahan is 49-28 over/under in the preseason during his coaching career.
Weekend NFL Preseason Schedule
Cowboys at Cardinals, 4 p.m.
Titans at Bengals, 7 p.m.
Jaguars at Jets, 7:30 p.m. (NFL Network)
Packers at Rams, 8 p.m.
Dolphins at Texans, 8 p.m.
Broncos at Seahawks, 10 p.m.
Colts at Giants, 7 p.m.
Steelers at Redskins, 8 p.m. (ESPN)