Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) at Houston Texans (7-6)
The Jaguars are on an 8-game losing streak and are coming off of one of their least impressive performances of the season, losing at home by 9 despite winning the turnover battle, against a Minnesota team that was missing their best defensive player, safety Harrison Smith. However, typically, it’s a good idea to bet on teams on long losing streaks, especially as road underdogs, as they tend to be undervalued. Road underdogs on a 7+ game losing streak are 56-30 ATS since 1989.
I think the Jaguars are definitely undervalued here as 6 point underdogs in Houston. The Texans are 7-6, but they aren’t winning big. Their 7 wins have come by a total of 41 points (an average of 5.86 points per game), while the 6 losses have come by a total of 86 points (an average of 14.33 points per game), giving them a -45 point differential that ranks just 26th in the NFL. The Jaguars, meanwhile, aren’t exactly getting blown out as their last 6 losses have come by a combined 41 points, an average of 6.83 points per game. The Texans are also probably the easiest opponent the Jaguars have faced in recent weeks. They lost by 3 to the Texans at home week 10, but other than that their last game that was easier than this was their win in Chicago week 6.
Even in that week 10 loss, the Jaguars won the first down battle 23-16 and moved the chains at a 4.74% higher rate. The Jaguars have actually won the first down battle on the season as well, as they rank 14th in first down rate differential, while the Texans rank 28th. Despite their 7-6 record, the Texans are -10 in offensive touchdown differential (4th worst in the NFL), while the Jaguars are just -4. The Jaguars’ -98 point differential is worse than Houston’s, but that’s largely because of a -17 turnover margin and turnover margins are incredibly inconsistent on a week-to-week basis (on average a team with a +3 turnover margin in a game will have a turnover margin of +0.0 the following week, the same average as teams that had a -3 turnover margin). Outside of those 17 snaps, the Jaguars have been the better team this season. I like the Jaguars a lot as 6 point road underdogs.
Houston Texans 17 Jacksonville Jaguars 16
Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +6