Houston Texans (4-9) at Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4)
The Jaguars got arguably their biggest win of the season last week, holding on in a 30-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. However, they easily could have lost that game, as they lost the first down rate battle at -1.24% and needed to win the turnover margin by 2 to pull out a 6-point victory. Despite that, this line has moved from 8.5 last week on the early line to 10.5 this week, as the Jaguars seem to have legitimized themselves in the eyes of the public a little bit. Typically, I bet against line movements that seem unwarranted, but I actually think this line is still a little too low.
The Texans are one of the worst teams in the NFL without all of the players they are missing with injury, including quarterback Deshaun Watson, defensive end JJ Watt, and outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus. They are down to 3rd string quarterback TJ Yates, behind arguably the worst offensive line in football, and, without Watt and Mercilus, this once stout defense is average at best. The Jaguars, meanwhile, are a top-10 team and have been for weeks, led by the top defense in the NFL, which is now fully healthy after stud linebacker Telvin Smith missed the last two games with a concussion.
The Texans are also in a terrible spot because they have to turn around and host the Steelers. It’s not that they won’t be focused for the Jaguars this week, but it’s very tough for teams to keep it close against superior teams when they have another tough game on deck. Teams are 33-55 ATS as underdogs of 7+ before being underdogs of 7+ since 2012, including 7-18 ATS before being home underdogs of 7+, which the Texans likely will be next week at home against the Steelers (+8 on the early line). The Jaguars, meanwhile, have only a trip to San Francisco on deck and should be able to take care of business against an inferior opponent. There’s not enough here for me to be confident in the Jaguars, but that would change if this line drops to 10.
Sunday Update: This line has moved to -10 in some places Sunday morning. Leonard Fournette is out for the Jaguars, but they are pretty deep at the running back position and have had success without him this season. Meanwhile, top receiver DeAndre Hopkins is not 100% for the Texans, after not practicing all week. He basically is this whole offense at this point in the season and an injury makes him that much easier for Jacksonville’s loaded secondary to deal with. Jacksonville is worth a small bet at -10.
Jacksonville Jaguars 24 Houston Texans 10
Pick against the spread: Jacksonville -10