Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans Pick & Prediction
Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10 SU, 5-8-2 ATS) vs. Houston Texans (10-5 SU, 6-8-1 ATS)
NFL Football Week 14
Date/Time: Sunday December 30th, 2018. 1:00PM (EST)
Where: NRG Stadium Houston, T.X.
By Jay Horne, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: JAX +8.5/HOU -8.5
Over/Under Total: 40
The Houston Texans failed to capitalize on a key opportunity last week in a disappointing 32-30 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Texans were in a position to clinch the AFC South and also lock down a first round bye in the playoffs. However, the loss to the Eagles dashed all of those possibilities and now the Texans are in a situation will there desperately need to rebound. Another loss in week 17 could give the team an extremely challenging uphill path in the playoffs. To avoid those scenarios, Houston will have another chance to secure the AFC South when they host the Jacksonville Jaguars at NRG Stadium in an important week 17 matchup.
Houston’s playoff scenario ahead of week 17
While the Texans have already secured their postseason fate, there are numerous possibilities of where they could be seeded. In theory, the Texans could be as high as a no. 2 seed or as low as a no. 6 seed once the regular season concludes this weekend. With a victory over the Jaguars, Houston would clinch the AFC South and at least the no. 3 seed. If the Patriots were to also lose in that scenario, Houston could get back the first round bye that slipped through their fingers last Sunday. If the Texans lose, they would need the Indianapolis Colts to lose to keep a grip of the division and the no. 3 seed. If the Texans lose and Colts win, Houston would slide all the way down into the no. 6 seed and lose the advantage of hosting any of their playoff games in Houston. So needless to say, Houston has a lot to play for against the Jaguars on Sunday.
Texans injuries continue to pile up
Houston entered their week 16 bout against the Philadelphia Eagles in bad shape. The offense has been banged up with injuries including several important players. Running back Lamar Miller was held out of week 16 with an ankle injury and WR Keke Coutee was also held out with a hamstring injury. Not to mention, star WR Deandre Hopkins has been hobbling around with an ankle injury since week 15’s victory over the Jets. At least for Hopkins, he was able to play and corralled 9 catches for 104 yards in the loss to the Eagles. However things got worse on Sunday when WR Demaryius Thomas went down with a torn achilles which will end his season. If you remember, Thomas was brought over in a trade with Denver to add some relief for the loss of WR Will Fuller who suffered a season ending injury earlier in the year. With the loss to Thomas, the Texans receiving corps are extremely thin especially if Coutee is unable to go again on Sunday.
Deshaun Watson shines in the loss to Eagles
Despite the loss and continued injury concerns, the biggest bright spot that emerged from Houston’s week 16 performance is the play of quarterback Deshaun Watson. The 2nd year quarterback basically put the offense on his back last Sunday despite the loss of several important players. Watson threw for 339 yards with 2 touchdowns and ran for another 49 yards with 2 touchdowns on the ground. He was simply unstoppable. He moved the chains with his feet when plays broke down and he extended plays to make magic happen in ways that few quarterbacks can in the NFL. I think it is safe to say that Houston has several things that should concern them moving forward. However the play at the quarterback position is not one of those concerns.
Jaguars offense still searching for answers
Last week I covered Jacksonville’s road match-up against Miami and provided an easy win on the under in that game. In the days leading up to the game, one of the main storylines was that Head Coach Doug Marrone had decided to bench QB Blake Bortles. Marrone even stated that Cody Kessler would be the quarterback for the remainder of the season. Well that statement did not even make it a full game. Kesler lasted 3 quarters and was battered on nearly every drop back by a failing offensive line. Bortles came in during the 4th quarter and led the Jaguars down the field by hitting 5 of 6 passing to setup a field goal.
The Jaguars defense prevailed in a 17-7 victory but the offense was far from convincing. Ahead of this week’s match-up against the Texans, Marrone is undecided on who the quarterback will be. Like I said last week, it does not really matter. Both quarterbacks are terrible and I am losing faith in the talent of running back Leonard Fournette as well. Fournette looked slow and a step behind against the Dolphins. Luckily in that game, the Jaguars defense was able to shutdown another struggling offense to help spur the victory. Good luck doing that this week against Deshaun Watson and a Texans offense that can generate points.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Texans have everything to play for in this game and their elite pass rush will produce a couple of turnovers. Watson and the offense find ways to get the ball in the end zone. Take Houston -8.5