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Tuesday, 15 January, 2019

Quarterbacks under pressure to put on Wembley show

Modest points total still looks on the high side

Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette
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Sky Sports Action, 2.30pm Sunday

The first of this season's four NFL London games takes place at Wembley on Sunday and regular visitors Jacksonville will be looking for their third successive win on this side of the Atlantic.

But after they posted a 30-27 win over their AFC South rivals Indianapolis last season and a 34-31 victory against Buffalo the year before, there is a decent chance that this week's game against Baltimore will not follow the high-scoring pattern.

Bookmakers chalked the points line up at 40 and it has already dipped below that with most firms. There looks a decent chance that even that modest tally will not be eclipsed despite an encouraging weather forecast.

Jacksonville showed their defensive abilities to sack Houston quarterbacks Tom Savage and DeShaun Watson a total of ten times in their 29-7 Week One victory, but a 37-16 defeat to Tennessee showed they still have a way to go.

While their offence has been boosted by running back Leonard Fournette, who was selected fourth overall in this year's draft, few have faith that quarterback Blake Bortles is the man to take the Jaguars forward after they claimed just three victories last season.

His days appear to be numbered and despite the fact this is the fourth time he has experienced the change of routine that comes with a London match, it is difficult to trust a quarterback who has thrown 51 interceptions in the last three seasons.

Baltimore's mean defence can get to him and Bortles has proved in the past it doesn't take a lot of pressure for him to be forced into making mistakes.

Baltimore, who will be playing in their first London game, have won their opening two matches, but victories over Cincinnati and Cleveland are not really much for the Ravens to crow about.

Those wins were against divisional opponents and could be valuable in their attempt to win the AFC North, but Cincinnati's dismal offence contributed to their downfall and while Cleveland should improve this season, there is still no escaping the fact the Browns have lost 27 of their last 29 matches.

The Jaguars have their quarterback issues, but it is worth remembering that the Ravens' Joe Flacco has thrown fewer than two touchdown passes in eight of his last ten matches.

Those heading down Wembley Way anticipating another high-scoring game - nine of the last 12 in London have gone over - could be disappointed.

Under 40 points
2pts 10-11 Betfred, Coral, Ladbrokes

Team news
Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams (foot) didn't make the trip to London. Running back Terrance West (calf) missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday but has travelled. Tight end Maxx Williams (ankle) and cornerback Jaylen Hill (thigh) are out.

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey (ankle) is rated questionable, along with offensive tackle Cam Robinson (shoulder).

Key stat
The points total has gone under the line in each of the last five games between Baltimore and Jacksonville.

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Bookmakers have chalked the points line up at 40 and there looks a decent chance that even this modest tally will not be eclipsed
E.W. Terms
Sky bet