Houston Texans (6-6 SU, 7-5 ATS) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10 SU, 3-8-1 ATS)
NFL Week 14
Date and Time: Sunday, December 7, 2014 at 1:00PM EST
Where: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Florida
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: HOU -5/JAC +5
Over/Under Total: 42
In an AFC South matchup, the Houston Texans make the trip to EverBank Field to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both teams are coming off wins on Sunday. The Jaguars scored their second win of the season with a 25-24 win over the Giants, when a late FG sealed them the win. The Texans are coming off a resounding 45-21 win over the Titans on Sunday to even their record at 6-6.
After losing Ryan Mallett to a pectoral injury, the Texans had to again call on the benched Ryan Fitzpatrick to come in as QB. He was fantastic on Sunday, throwing for 6 touchdowns with 358 yards. You saw the Texans doing some things they will try to continue doing, like making full use of their talented receivers, namely Andre Johnson and blossoming DeAndre Hopkins, who caught 2 TD passes and had 238 yards. Since coming off the bye, theyre 2-1 and look to finish 2014 strongly after facing a lot of issues earlier in the season.
The Jaguars got a nice win on Sunday, beating the Giants at home for their 2nd win of the season. Rookie quarterback Blake Bortles was efficient and didnt turn the ball over for the first time in his young career. Bortles also sprang loose some nice runs, including a 29-yard scamper. RB Denard Robinson continues to serve as a productive contributor on the ground. With a lot of nice complimentary pieces, there are some good things in place for the Jaguars.
Houston is also getting a big boost from DE J.J. Watt, who is making a case for being the league MVP. He is a brutal pass-rusher and one of the more disruptive forces in the league. He has scored 5 touchdowns this season. The Texans lead the NFL in having secured 28 turnovers from opponents in 12 games. They have forced more fumbles than any team by a large margin. Its a defense that can make plays, though they are 27th in total defense and an awful 30th against the pass. But while they are leaky, they at least have the ability to step up and change the direction of the game. Its a defense that has promise heading into the future.
Houston saw a spike in their aerial attack on Sunday, but are still the 23rd-ranked passing-game in the league. What they can do is run the ball and if Arian Foster can hit a groove in these final 4 games, it would give the Texans a big boost. We need to remember this is not just any 6-6 team, but one that finished last season with 14 consecutive losses. So its fair to say they have things pointed in the right direction.
Its difficult to say the same thing about Jacksonville as they sit with a 2-10 record, but they are also showing some good signs. Beating a free-falling Giants team is nothing to get terribly excited about, but Jacksonville has a promising group of young players across the field who should develop in the future. With Bortles and Robinson at QB and RB and receivers like Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson (out), and Marquise Lee, thats a lot of youth. And Justin Blackmon is lying in wait, if he ever gets his act together. It needs time to come around, but they enter the last 4 games with some decent momentum.
Again, it was just the Giants, but Sundays win stopped a bad pattern for Jacksonville. After beating the Browns in their only other win, they went on a 4-game stretch where they simply werent competitive. Its come in waves this season for the Jags. They opened the season getting blown out in 4 straight games. For the next month, they were tough, winning a game and losing a few close ones. But then came another phase of ineptitude. Maybe being at home and in their division will help them keep things going in the right direction this week.
Fitzpatrick really looked good on Sunday. Usually when a quarterback gets benched and then comes back later in the season for whatever reason, he will lack confidence. But Fitzpatrick took the reins with gusto and against Jacksonville, there is no good reason why he shouldnt continue to have success. Thats been said before, only see to see him and the team fall flat, so its hard to be terribly confident with Houston in the role of a road favorite.
With a chance to go over .500, one should expect a robust effort by Houston on both sides of the ball. The Jaguars should be able to put up some points against this defense, but Houston has a few too many playmakers on both sides of the ball. And if those guys produce on Sunday, which they should, the Jaguars will be facing an uphill battle. The Texans can be flat on any given week, but if they cant respond in this situation, which actually sets up well for them, they wont really have an excuse. I see the Houston offense having a good day and putting away the Jaguars late for the cover.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Houston Texans minus 5 points.