Somebody’s gotta win (probably) when the Jacksonville Jaguars visit the Houston Texans on Sunday. The Week 12 NFL betting lines say it’ll be the Texans.
Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to November 19 inclusive:
1-1 ML (+0.71 units)
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The Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9 SU, 2-8 ATS) are one of the worst football teams we’ve ever seen. But are they 10 points worse than the Houston Texans (2-8 SU and ATS)? That’s the puzzle we get to figure out when these two teams clash this Sunday at Reliant Stadium. According to our early NFL consensus reports, 60 percent of bettors are on Jacksonville. That’s gotta sting if you’re a Texans fan.
Ten Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique
It’s one of those old NFL betting rules of thumb: Take the double-digit dogs. I’m normally on board with that, but Jacksonville happens to be 2-3 ATS in that role this year. It’s one thing to take the Jaguars when they’re getting 26.5 points against the Denver Broncos. This is a much dicier proposition.
The problem: Jacksonville is really, really bad at football. We’re talking the third-worst team to hit the field since 1989, at least according to the efficiency stats at Football Outsiders. The top-two worst teams through Week 11? The 1993 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 2005 San Francisco 49ers. That’s not the kind of company you want to be keeping.
The funny thing is, I was willing to give the Jaguars the benefit of the doubt going into this season, with their new ownership and front office, and their apparent embrace of football analytics. But it was always going to be a short leash. This is a team that needs a super-high-end franchise quarterback prospect in the worst way, someone like, I don’t know, Louisville Cardinals QB Teddy Bridgewater. The “Tank for Teddy” campaign that may or may not exist is working out very well so far.
Keel Over for Keenum
For just a while there, the Texans thought they might have solved their own quarterback issues with the installation of Case Keenum as their new starter, replacing the injured and ineffective Matt Schaub. The early results were very promising; Keenum went pick-free in his first three starts and showed the poise of a veteran. Then last week’s game against the Oakland Raiders happened. Keenum was benched in the third quarter with the Raiders (+10.5 away) up 28-17; Schaub engineered two scoring drives, but only for field goals, as Houston lost 28-23.
I’m no NFL head coach (thank goodness), so I suppose I’m in no position to second-guess Gary Kubiak for deciding to bench Keenum. But I am an NFL betting analyst. Looking at Sunday’s matchup (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS), Keenum is going to get the start again, and it’s tempting to conclude that his confidence level has been taken down a peg. However, if you’re into the psychology thing, cast your eyes upward into the stands at Reliant Stadium. That crowd went nuclear when Schaub was brought into the game. They booed so loudly that Houston’s offense had to work with a silent count.
Those Houston fans aren’t doing their team any favors, but you can understand their frustration. Here’s how the bottom end of the efficiency charts look after Week 11:
No. 30: Houston (No. 26 offense, No. 20 defense, No. 30 special teams)
No. 31: Oakland
No. 32: Jacksonville (No. 32 offense, No. 31 defense, No. 11 special teams)
The Texans couldn’t even beat the Raiders, so I wouldn’t feel too comfortable taking them as double-digit favorites against anybody. But there’s a simple way out of this conundrum: Take the OVER on the total of 43.5 points. The OVER has cashed in three times in a row for Houston and three times for Jacksonville. Lousy defense should trump lousy offense every time.NFL Pick: Take OVER 43.5 (–104) at Matchbook