NFL Picks – Texans Vs. Jaguars (-2)

The first thing that pops to mind when looking at this spread is that Vegas is really down on the Texans.

That view is justifiable, as Houston has lost two straight gamesafter having Week 7 off. The schedule doesn’t get easier for the Texans,either, as the team will play five of its final eight games on theroad. That means that, with a record of 4-4 through five home games andthree road games, the Texans are underachieving. The team’s offense hashad two of its worst performances in the last two weeks, based on theyards-per-play metric. More broadly, the Texans have a pointdifferential of -33 and a turnover margin of -2. Those numbers are notparticularly inspiring for a team that beat the Colts, Chiefs andRedskins this season.

The Jaguars have an identical win/loss record of 4-4 and were offlast week after pummeling the Cowboys in Dallas during Week 8. To acasual observer, the Jags look like they should be able to put up afight at home. But the team’s numbers aren’t particularly inspiring,either. Jacksonville loses when its running backs, including MauriceJones-Drew (pictured above), rush for 130 yards or less in a game. Theoffense turns the ball over often. Stripping out the four forcedturnovers on defense against the hapless Cowboys last week, the Jagshave a turnover differential of -11. The team has a point differentialof -61, remarkably worse than the -33 of the Texans. The Jags also havedifficulty stopping the rushing attack of good teams, losing to theTitans, Chargers and Chiefs in giving up more than 150 rushing yards ineach of those games.

Bessire’s Take: “To me, this line appears to be too reliant on recentperformances. In the last two weeks, Houston has been schooled by thebanged-up Colts in Indianapolis and beaten late in a shootout at homeagainst the Chargers. In the same time period, the Jaguars destroyed theCowboys and then had a bye week. The problem is that the Texans raninto better football teams that were perfectly built to exploitHouston’s weaknesses. Jacksonville beat a bad Cowboys team that gave upin that game. In this matchup, Houston is the better team and has theweapons to exploit Jacksonville’s weaknesses. We have talked at lengthabout how bad the Texans’ secondary is and how that will keep them frommaking a serious playoff push. Well, the only worse team against thepass this season has been the Jacksonville Jaguars. And while DavidGarrard should put up some big fantasy points against the Texans,Houston’s offensive passing game is significantly better thanJacksonville’s. As is the Texans’ running game and its ability to defendthe run. Advantage Houston across the board, save for home field.” Take: “The Houston Texans were made a 1-point roadfavorite by the oddsmakers and the sharps pounded thehome team until the favorite changed to the Jags as a 1.5-pointfavorite. This number has the potential to close Jags as a 3-pointfavorite. However, it’s more likely to close 2 to 2.5.”

The Pick: Texans +2: After this game, the Texans travel to New Yorkto play the Jets, come home against the Titans, go to Philadelphia, andthen come back home to play the Ravens. This game against the Jags,while on the road, may be one of few opportunities for the team to notcha win. I expect Arian Foster to rush the ball quite a bit in an upsetvictory for Houston.