The Houston Texans had been hoping that a Week 17 matchup with the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars could be a spot where they could rest their starters. Their loss at Philadelphia last week has thrown everything for a loop.
Houston is now the No. 3 seed in the AFC, has blown their shot at a bye and the No. 2 seed (unless New England loses at home as a two-touchdown favorite) and is at risk of falling to the No. 6 seed. Indianapolis and Tennessee square off on Sunday night, so one of those two teams will win. If Houston loses, that means they’ll fall all the way down to the six spot. The Texans are a big favorite but they better not mess around or they’ll have a really tough time in the playoffs.
NFL Point Spread and Betting Analysis
The Texans have feasted on teams with a losing record as they are 5-0 in that spot straight up and 3-1-1 ATS. However, it’s worth noting that this is not a team that finishes well. They are just 2-9-1 ATS in their last 13 December games. We’re seeing a lower total for this game and it’s worth noting that the Texans have had trouble in these types of games. They are 0-3 ATS this season in games where the total is between 35.5 and 42 points.
As for the Jags, almost all of the trends are bad as they’ve been miserable this season. However, they have covered two straight visits to Houston.
The Jags are a really tough team to handicap these days. They went from shutting out the Colts to getting blown out at Tennessee to being embarrassed at home to the Josh Johnson-led Washington Redskins to winning at Miami, a team that was 6-1 at home on the season.
So what are we to expect this week?
It’s safe to say that the offence is pathetic right now. One of their touchdowns last week came on defence. They finished with just 118 yards passing and that was after benching Cody Kessler and going back to the much-maligned Blake Bortles. This team is missing four of five starters on their offensive line.
However, Houston’s offence can be handled. Deshaun Watson is balling right now but DeAndre Hopkins is the team’s main weapon. With Demariyus Thomas out and the running game producing a league-low 66 rushing yards per game over the last three weeks, the Jags defence can turn this into an ugly, low-scoring affair. That would give them a chance.
There’s no question that the Texans have hit a bit of a wall the last three weeks. They lost at home to Indianapolis, then nearly lost at the New York Jets and then fell short at Philadelphia. If they’re sluggish again, they could wind up losing this game and in that nightmare scenario where they fall all the way down to No. 6.
The good news for Houston is that the Jags offence is a one-trick pony. If they can’t run the ball, Bortles will throw plenty of incompletions and interceptions. Houston is fourth in the NFL in rushing yards per game allowed. That alone should put the Texans in great shape. The other key factor is that the Jags have not played well away from home this season. Specifically, the vaunted defence is allowing 60.8 more rushing yards on the road than at home and 11.0 more points per game in the away scenario. As long as Houston gets in front early and doesn’t give the Jags life, this should be a comfortable Texans win.