Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to December 1 inclusive:
1-1 ML (+0.71 units)
Check out our NFL Picks: Week 14 Betting Odds Report
Don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t say it…
Houston, we have a problem.
Aw, geez. Fine, Houston has a problem. The Texans (2-10 SU, 3-9 ATS) are now the worst team in the NFL standings, losing 10 straight games at 3-7 ATS. They even lost 13-6 to the Jacksonville Jaguars (+10.5 away) in Week 12. But go figure, the previously winless Jaguars (3-9 SU, 4-8 ATS) have taken three of their last four games, all three as big road dogs. Do you believe in miracles?
Apparently not, because the Jags are getting three points at home on the NFL odds for Thursday night’s rematch (8:25 p.m. ET, NFLN) with the Texans. And our very early NFL consensus numbers show nearly two-thirds support for Houston. Let’s dig deep, peel back the layers, and get to know the real story behind these two incredibly bad football clubs.
Take a look at my thoughts on the Thursday Night Football Opening Odds.
The Bowels of Sucktitude
Statistically speaking, the Jaguars have had the worse season by far. Heading into Week 13, they were dead last on the efficiency charts at Football Outsiders (No. 32 offense, No. 30 defense, No. 12 special teams). Making matters worse, WR Justin Blackmon, who led the Jags last year with 64 catches as a rookie, was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Four games later, Blackmon was suspended again indefinitely.
It’s been a much more disappointing season for the Texans, who were No. 30 in efficiency (No. 27 offense, No. 19 defense, No. 30 special teams) through Week 12. They’ve had issues on and off the field; formerly reliable QB Matt Schaub (77.8 passer rating) turned into a pumpkin and was replaced by QB Case Keenum (86.1) in Week 7, just as Pro Bowl LB Brian Cushing was lost for the season (again) with a broken leg. Then head coach Gary Kubiak suffered a "transient ischemic attack" in Week 9 – basically a mini-stroke. Kubiak recovered and coached from the press box after missing just one game.
There was finally some good news for the Texans last week when Kubiak made his return to the sidelines against the New England Patriots (–7 away), and his team rallied with a very competitive performance, only to lose 34-31. Houston’s once-vaunted rushing attack finally came to life, as RB Ben Tate (4.3 yards per carry) romped for three TDs, opening things up for WR Andre Johnson (82 catches for 1,123 yards), who made eight grabs to reach 900 for his career.
It seems inevitable that Kubiak and his staff will be fired at the end of this season, but if and when it happens, it won’t be without a fight. Kubiak is by all accounts a beloved figure in the Texans dressing room; the former Denver Broncos back-up QB (behind John Elway) is a Houston native and was once a ball boy for the Houston Oilers. And Kubiak coached the Texans to their first playoff appearances in franchise history in 2011 and 2012. His players aren’t likely to throw him under the bus down the stretch.
I’m not too big on the “revenge game” concept for this week’s matchup. Instead, I’ll point out that Jacksonville’s three victories came against the Texans, the Tennessee Titans (No. 22 in efficiency) and the Cleveland Browns (No. 28) by a combined 13 points. Credit where credit is due – but not too much credit. I’ll grab Houston at less than a field goal on the NFL lines if the juice is right.
NFL Pick: Take the Texans –2.5 (–115) at Marathon