Houston Texans (2-10) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-9)
The Texans are 2-10, a game behind the Jaguars, and lost to the Texans at home two weeks ago. Why do they deserve to be favored here on the road by 3.5 points? Well, it’s because the Texans aren’t as bad as their record, while the Jaguars aren’t as good and just because one team beats another team, doesn’t mean they’d necessary win more than 50 times out of 100.
The Jaguars have 3 wins, but all 3 of them were by a touchdown or less against bad teams and they probably would not have beaten any of the 3 teams more than 50 times out of a 100, given how they played in the rest of their games. Their nine losses have all come by double digits. They’re still, by far, dead last in the NFL in point differential, DVOA, and rate of moving the chains. The Texans, meanwhile, have just been killed by turnovers (-12) and return touchdowns (-6 touchdowns) and by a 2-6 record in games decided by a touchdown or less.
However, the Texans could have completely quit on the season. They aren’t used to losing like this and they hadn’t been showing a lot of effort over the past month, up until last week’s near home win against the Patriots, which was essentially their Super Bowl. Now that they’re done with that game, they might just completely mail it in. Teams usually struggle as road favorites off of a home loss as underdogs, going 38-51 ATS since 1989 in that spot.
The Texans might actually benefit from mailing it in, given that they are currently in the driver’s seat for the first pick. The Jaguars used to be in the driver’s seat for the first pick, but they didn’t seem to care about that, winning 3 of their last 4. However, there’s no reason to trust they’ll definitely put any effort into this one. That’s the issue. This is a completely meaningless game that teams could actually benefit from losing. I’m not putting anything on that. You’d have to be a degenerate gambler to put any money on this game. Gun to my head, I’ll fade the public (slight lean on Houston) and hope for a field goal game, but I have no confidence.
Houston Texans 23 Jacksonville Jaguars 20
Pick against spread: Jacksonville +3.5