Texans vs. Jaguars Odds & Picks: Ride With Sunday’s Road Favorites
Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Deshaun Watson
Texans vs. Jaguars Odds
Week 9 brings an AFC South rematch between the Texans and the Jaguars.
The two teams each only have one win this season. The Texans were able to handle the Jaguars, 30-14, in a blowout back in Week 5 for their sole victory.
As they look to repeat that success, the Texans will need their run defense to once again hold down the Jaguars’ ground as they did by allowing just 75 rushing yards four weeks ago. Offensively, Deshaun Watson focused on attacking the Jaguars’ weak links in coverage en route to a 357 passing yards, which is his most this season.
For the Jaguars, all eyes will be on sixth-round rookie quarterback Jake Luton in his first NFL start. Jacksonville will likely lean heavily on running back James Robinson to make life easier for Luton, the rookie quarterback might be forced into a shootout with Watson on the other side.
The Jaguars have allowed 30 or more points in every game since their season opening win over the Colts. Facing Watson and the Texans’ speedy offense will be another tough matchup to try and slow down — this puts the value on the road favorite.
Let’s take a closer look.
Since firing head coach Bill O’Brien, the Texans’ offense has gotten the best out of Watson, who went from a 98.2 quarterback rating under O’Brien to a 120.8 mark without him.
The main difference has been the utilization of wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who has seen at least nine targets in every game since the coaching change. He had 21 in the first four games of the season under O’Brien.
Getting their offense going early has been the main struggle this season for the Texans. Watson has a quarterback rating of 84.1 and a completion percentage of 58.7% in the first quarter. Hopefully, an extra week to prepare will have the Texans firing on all cylinders right away.
Defensively, the Texans were dealt a blow when linebackers Whitney Mercilus and Jacob Martin were moved to the Reserve/COVID-19 list due to contact tracing. Mercilus and Martin have combined for five of Houston’s 15 sacks this season.
While missing pass rushers will not be ideal for Houston, rookies tend to hold onto the ball longer as they process defenses. Also, Luton ran only a 5.07 40-yard dash coming out of college — that would have been the slowest time for a quarterback at the combine since 2018 had he run then.
A slow, indecisive rookie may be what J.J. Watt needs to turn around his season. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year has only 11 pressures this year, which ranks 48th per Pro Football Reference.
The bye week came at the perfect time for the Jaguars, having lost their previous three games by double-digit points. Unfortunately, they found out that quarterback Gardner Minshew had been playing with a broken thumb. Now with Minshew out, the Jaguars are turning to their rookie from Oregon State.
Undrafted rookie James Robinson has played at a high level all season, averaging 2.5 yards after contact per carry, which ranks ninth per Pro Football Reference. If Robinson can continue his success against the Texans’ 31st-ranked run defense, life for Luton would be made much easier.
On the other side of the ball, the Jags’ pass defense will have their hands full trying to slow down the Texans’ passing attack that tore them up in the first matchup between these teams. The Jaguars will have C.J. Henderson and Sidney Jones to match up with receivers Will Fuller and Cooks.
Linebackers Joe Schobert and Josh Jones and cornerback Tre Herndon have been the players targeted by opposing offenses. The trio has all allowed a quarterback rating of at least 133 in coverage. These players will be covering inside receiving threats for the Texans like wide receiver Randall Cobb, tight ends Jordan Akins and Darren Fells and running back David Johnson.
Cobb led the Texans with 10 targets and 95 yards against the Packers in Week 7, showing Watson’s comfort turning to his alternative options if the coverage dictates.
Jacksonville will likely turn to Robinson and its run game to help their rookie quarterback in his first NFL start. But if the Texans’ run defense can play as they did in Week 5, a passing battle between Watson and Luton is likely to weigh heavily in Houston’s favor.
PICK: Texans -7