Houston Texans (1-4 SU, 1-4 ATS) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4 SU, 2-3 ATS)
NFL Week 6
Date/Time: Sunday, October 18, 2015 at 1:00PM EST
Where: EverBank Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida
by Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: HOU -1/JAC -1
Over/Under Total: 43.5
On Sunday, the Houston Texans come to EverBank Stadium to face off with the Jacksonville Jaguars in a battle of AFC South teams that enter week six with 1-4 records. Both teams could use a win. Houston enters this game with a longer break, having lost to an Andrew Luck-less Indy 27-20 last Thursday at home. Things didnt go much better for Jacksonville on Sunday, as they lost, 38-31, to Tampa.
Houston looks a little disorganized right now. Its like you dont know what to expect. Against the Colts, Ryan Mallett started at quarterback. In the second quarter, he left the game after getting the wind knocked out of him. Little did he know that would lead to him no longer being the starting quarterback of the Houston Texans. Ready to re-enter the game after a play or two, Hoyer was left in there, compiling over 300 yards in less than three quarters and getting the Houston offense moving, although in a losing effort. Without getting into the merit of Hoyer being the starter, it was a weird way for a quarterback battle to unfold. You dont usually see a guy earn a starting gig that way. It speaks to where Houston is right nowin a grasping-for-straws mode where theyre looking for anything to get the ship righted.
The Texans were able to get 444 yards of offense against the Colts last Thursday. That could be a good sign and maybe Arian Foster can get rolling after two games where he was getting his feet wet. This looks like a good spot for him to affirm his 2015 presence and his contributions would make this offense a lot less one-dimensional. With the leading receiver in the league in DeAndre Hopkins, its a group that should be able to do damage. Hopkins had another big game on Thursday, as he and Hoyer seem to have really good chemistry. Another positive sign for the offense was the emergence of Jaelen Strong on Thursday, as the rookie receiver out of ASU caught a pair of touchdowns passes. Its not outside the realm of possibility that this is an offense that could elevate its form, if they get consistently-good quarterback play, Arian Foster gets untracked, and more weapons besides Hopkins can start to consistently produce.
Obviously, Houston was banking on their defense and theyve been a disappointment through 5 games in 2015. Against Indy on Thursday, 40-year old Matt Hasselbeck had a really good performance late, despite reportedly being on a sick bed leading up to the game. Andre Johnson, their former star, came out of mothballs to catch two touchdowns. The pass-rush, which certainly would have come in handy, was null and void, with JJ Watt not doing anything that stood out. The pass-defense was lousy. CB Jonathan Joseph isnt having the best season and other pieces in the secondary have not clicked particularly well or at least not as well as some had hoped. And against the run, theyve been less than stellar.
Jacksonville came out on the wrong end of a 38-31 loss to Tampa and that doesnt look good. But the standards are a bit different for a Jags team that is just trying to position themselves for some improvement And truth be told, their offense is starting to come around. Albeit in a losing cause, QB Blake Bortles had one of his best games on Sunday, going for over 300 yards and 4 TD passes. It hasnt started materializing into wins, but Bortles is making headway with what is really a talented and rising receiver crew. Allen Hurns had another big game through the air and along with Allen Robinson, the Jags have two of the top 13 receivers in the league. For a team mired so long in hopelessness, an offense on the move certainly qualifies as a positive sign moving ahead for this franchise.
Bortles injured his shoulder on Sunday and played through it, making one think it may not be that serious. After all, he did have a good game, but is still listed as questionable for Sunday. The Jags might be without rookie back TJ Yeldon, who was subdued on Sunday after the first big performance of his young career. But in recent seasons, we had seen a Jacksonville offense that had been reduced to just sloshing around on the field and now they have a forward-moving orientation to them. And while they might be out of their element in some spots, at home against a wayward Houston team in not one of them.
Defensively, the Jags have held their own in spots that are more-favorable. Giving up 51 to New England and letting Tampa put up 38 points arent all that positive of developments. But against Miami and Carolina, they allowed just 20 points to both teams, while giving up only 16 to Indy. In the right spots, this is a defense that can be pretty scrappy, nothing special, but marginally serviceable.
Its not difficult to envision any number of scenarios for this game. Houston, with Hoyer showing the hot hand on Thursday and Foster due to get back into the groove, could romp against the Jaguars defense. But Jacksonville, with its now-impactful aerial game, should be able to hit the scoreboard and keep pace with a Houston team that hasnt yet hit its stride. In terms of a team either being high or low in a spiritual sense, Jacksonville seems less rattled about being 1-4. Houston is starting to show a red-faced disposition, while Jacksonville is more accepting of their role. In other words, they might be looser for this game. In a close one that could come down to the end, Ill take the Jags.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Jacksonville Jaguars plus one point.
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