NFL Picks: Texans vs. Jaguars Opening Odds Report

Darin Zank

Monday, December 2, 2013 3:57 PM GMT

Monday, Dec. 2, 2013 3:57 PM GMT

While the Houston-Jacksonville match-up Thursday night looks like a complete dud on paper, it might actually be a good game, between one team that's experienced some seriously hard luck this year and another that's won three of its last four games.

And that team that's gone 3-1 both SU and ATS over its last four games is a prime-time home dog.

Why is that NFL line what it is? And which way might we bet it?

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Texans-Jags Game Set-Up

Houston is going through one of those seasons in which nothing goes right.

The Texans had, or have, won the AFC South the last two seasons, and were favorites to do so again this season. But since a 2-0 start Houston has lost its last 10 games in a row.

However, many of those losses have been close ones; by a field goal in overtime against Seattle, by one point at Kansas City, by a field goal against Indy, by a field goal at Arizona, by five points against Oakland and, two weeks ago, by a touchdown against this same Jacksonville team, 13-6. 

Sunday the Texans continued that gut-wrenching trend, losing at home to New England 34-31. Houston led that game 17-7 at the half and 31-28 early in the fourth quarter, but the Patriots rallied for a pair of field goals, and a late Texans drive came up short.

Houston did, however, cover as seven-point home dogs. 

On the home side of this match-up Jacksonville started 0-8 this season, but has won its last three of its last four games.

Four weeks ago the Jags got off the schnide with an upset of the Titans in Tennessee. Jacksonville then lost at home to Arizona but then beat the Texans in Houston, and Sunday beat the Browns in Cleveland 32-28.

The Jags trailed four different times Sunday vs. the Brownies, but persevered and won it on a 20-yard Henne-to-Shorts TD connection in the last minute of the game.

Jacksonville has now won three times this year outright as underdogs of more than a touchdown.

Actually, with its recent spurt the Jags have played themselves out of the top pick in the next NFL draft, at least for the moment. At 3-9 Jacksonville sits in third place in the AFC South, a game ahead of the Texans, who bring up the rear at 2-10.

With the worst record in the league Houston now owns that top spot in the draft.

This will be just Jacksonville's fifth true home game of this season; the Jags have already played seven true road games, and one of their “home” dates took place in London, the loss to the 49ers.

Texans-Jags Recent History

Houston had won the previous five meetings in this series, sweeping the season series the last two years, until Jacksonville pulled that upset a couple weeks ago.

The Jags outplayed the favored Texans that day, out-gaining them 333-218, out-rushing them 118-77 and holding the ball for almost 34 minutes.

Texans-Jags Injury Report

Houston is still playing without RB Arian Foster, who's gone for the year with a back problem. The Texans are also down a couple key guys on defense, with both LB Brian Cushing and S Danieal Manning also out for the season.

On the other side of the field Jacksonville is without WR Justin Blackmon, who's been suspended for the rest of the season.

Texans-Jags Betting Odds

As of early this week it seems Houston's close losses mean more to the oddsmakers than do Jacksonville's recent victories, because the Texans were early three-point favorites over the Jags for Thursday night's game.

Two weeks ago Houston, at home, was favored by 10.5 points over Jacksonville.

Texans-Jags Betting Trends

Houston is 3-9 ATS this season, 2-3 ATS on the road.

Jacksonville is 4-8 ATS this season, but 0-4 ATS at home.

Texans-Jags Pick

According to some numbers that matter to us, Houston is the better team here. The Texans rank 10th in the league in offense and third in total defense, while the Jags are getting out-rushed by 60 YPG. So despite its struggles we'll go with Houston for our NFL picks.

We'll revisit this game later this week and offer up a pick on the total. 

NFL Pick: Houston -2.5 points offered at Pinnacle

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