Free NFL Picks: Texans at Jaguars Odds for Week 14
by Alan Matthews - 12/3/2013
They say the NFL is ratings gold, that the matchup doesn't matter and people will watch because it's football. I'm guessing that will be put to the test in a big way this Thursday night when Houston visits Jacksonville, a matchup of teams a combined 5-19. It will still probably win the night because sports-wise there's not much else. The NBA on TNT doubleheader is Knicks-Nets -- two terrible teams -- and Heat-Bulls, which lost all luster with Derrick Rose's injury. College basketball-wise the only AP Top-25 team in action Thursday is San Diego State. Yawn. I suppose you could check out Sharks-Penguins in a potential Stanley Cup Finals preview. Or just get some Christmas shopping done.
This game means a ton for the top overall pick in next spring's draft, which is expected to be loaded with quarterback talent. Currently Houston (2-10) holds down that spot as the only two-win team in the NFL. Washington (3-9) is No. 2 followed by Jacksonville (3-9), Atlanta (3-9), Tampa Bay (3-8-1) and Minnesota (3-8-1). The first tiebreaker rule is strength of schedule with the easier SOS getting the better pick. Of course, the Redskins have to give their pick to the Rams, who could suddenly be loaded next year with potentially two Top-10 picks.
It's the NFL, so you can't ask your players to tank. The Jaguars are playing hard under first-year coach Gus Bradley, winning three of their past four games after entering November without a victory. All three, oddly, came on the road. Houston certainly didn't put forth a tanking effort Sunday in losing to New England, 34-31. It was the best the team they had played in weeks but still a franchise-record 10th straight loss. The past six have each been by a touchdown or less.
Should Houston lose here, it should be able to lose out and get the top pick. The Texans aren't likely to win in Indianapolis in Week 15 or at home against Denver in Week 16. In Week 17 at Tennessee, the Texans can flat-out lay down. I hope Houston gets the top pick because I am curious to see if it would dare take Johnny Manziel that high. I would very much doubt it. He would bring some buzz staying in state but has a mid-to-late first-round grade. More likely Houston would look to Teddy Bridgewater or Marcus Mariota, cut Matt Schaub and keep Case Keenum as a stop-gap starter for 2014 and future backup.
Jacksonville 100 percent will be taking a quarterback, and I'm sure it would be fine with Bridgewater, a Florida native, or Mariota. The Jags don't want to keep winning and fall to the point where neither of those guys might be available. The Falcons definitely won't take a first-round QB, and I tend to think the Bucs and Rams won't either. Minnesota probably does.
Texans at Jaguars Betting Story Lines
Houston shut down New England in the first half Sunday, leading 17-7. The blitz flustered Tom Brady, but the Pats made the right adjustments, and he torched Houston in the second half. That led Houston's Antonio Smith to accuse New England of spying because the Pats were such a different offensive team after intermission. Um, what's to spy (he backtracked saying he was kidding -- whatever)? They are across the field. I simply think the Pats needed a half to gather themselves as it was a natural letdown off the big comeback against Denver.
It was Houston's third home loss this season when leading at one point by double-digits. Ben Tate had a big game with Arian Foster done for the season, rushing for 102 yards and three touchdowns. He made himself some money in that one as Tate will be a free agent because he's in the final year of his rookie contract. No way he returns to Houston to back up Foster. Already Cleveland has been reported to covet Tate. Keenum had a mediocre game, completing 15-of-30 for 272 yards, no TDs and a pick. Andre Johnson had eight catches for 121 yards, and became the second-fastest player in NFL history to reach 900 catches, trailing only Marvin Harrison.
The Jags couldn't stop Browns receiver Josh Gordon on Sunday but rallied to win 32-28 in Cleveland. Hometown boy Cecil Shorts caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne with 40 seconds left, completing an 80-yard drive. Shorts made Browns star cornerback Joe Haden look bad on the play. The Jags have won three straight road games for the first time since 2007 and back-to-back games anywhere for the first time since Weeks 13-14 of 2010. They still can't run the ball or stop the run, but Henne has been serviceable. The defense also has stepped up with eight sacks in the past three games. For a team that had 20 all of last season, that's a big improvement.
Texans at Jaguars NFL Week 14 Betting Odds and Trends
At BookMaker, Houston is a three-point favorite with a total of 43. The Texans are 3-9 ATS (2-3 on road) and 8-4 “over/under” (2-3 on road). The Jaguars are 4-8 ATS (0-5 at home) and 7-5 O/U (2-3 at home). Houston is 1-5 ATS in its past six against teams with a losing record. It is 0-7 ATS in its past seven following an ATS loss. Jacksonville has covered just two of its past 11 following a win. It has covered one of its past six following an ATS win. The Jags are 0-5 ATS in their past five Thursday games. The over is 4-0 in Houston's past four following an ATS win. The over is 5-2 in Jacksonville's past seven after a win. The under is 4-1 in the past five meetings. The road team is 4-0-1 ATS in the past five.
Free NFL Picks: Texans at Jaguars Week 14 Betting Predictions
I'm a bit surprised Jacksonville is a dog here -- thought it might be a “pick'em” or maybe one point in either direction. This is the 25th consecutive regular-season game in which the Jaguars have been underdogs. It's the shortest line against Jacksonville this season and first time under a touchdown since Week 2.
Back on Nov. 24, the Jags were +10.5 when they won 13-6 at Houston. Henne was 23-of-32 for 239 yards, and the Jags didn't turn it over. Keenum was 18-of-34 for 169 yards and a pick. Houston had only 218 yards. Texans coach Gary Kubiak was still recovering from his mini-stroke then and coached from the booth.
Does Houston have more talent? No doubt. But the Jags are feeling good about themselves, and I'm sure would like to win a home game this season. They haven't been close to doing so yet and in fact only scored their first home offensive TD of the season (not counting a game in London) in their last game at EverBank Field. I'd jump here while the line is still at 3.0 and not 2.5, where I have seen it at other books. Take Jacksonville and the over.
Doc’s Sports is offering new clients free NFL picks from any handicapper on our Advisory Board. This special offer does not require a credit card, and you will never have to deal with a salesman. Click here to get your free $60 NFL picks credit today.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Get all of this Weeks NFL picks
Get all of this Weeks Guaranteed Expert NFL Picks