Texans at Jaguars
December 4, 2013
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HOUSTON TEXANS (2-10) at JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (3-9)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Houston -3, Total: 43
The Texans hope to wake up from a nightmarish 10 straight losses when they visit the upstart Jaguars on Thursday night.
Houston is 3-7 ATS during its skid, but it has lost each of the past six games by seven points or less, falling 34-31 at home to New England last week.
Since starting the season 0-8, Jacksonville is 3-1 (SU and ATS), with all three victories coming on the road, including last week’s 32-28 win in Cleveland. But at home, the Jags are 0-4 (SU and ATS) and losing by an average score of 29 to 6. Before the Texans lost 13-6 to the Jags in an ugly game two weeks ago, they had won five straight in this series (4-1 ATS).
Both teams have negative betting trends working against them, as Houston is 5-17 ATS (23%) versus very bad defensive teams (27+ PPG allowed) since 1992, while Jacksonville is 2-9 ATS (18%) as a home underdog over the past two seasons.
The Texans had hoped to get TE Owen Daniels (broken fibula) back in time for this game, but he has already been ruled out. The only significant recent injury for the Jaguars is DE Jeremy Mincey, who is questionable with a knee injury that has forced him to miss the past two games. The Texans are averaging a paltry 19.2 PPG (4th-worst in NFL), despite gaining 365 total YPG (10th in league).
They are subpar both on third downs (34.7%, 24th in NFL) and in the red zone (52% touchdowns, 20th in NFL), but have cut down their turnovers with just six giveaways in six games since QB Case Keenum has taken over. Keenum is completing 54% of his passes for 1,433 yards (7.5 YPA), 8 TD and 3 INT, but he had a rough game against the Jags two weeks ago when he was 18-of-34 for 169 yards (5.0 YPA), 0 TD and two sacks taken in a 13-6 loss. Top RB Ben Tate also had a horrible game in that defeat, rushing seven times for just one yard.
However, in Tate's two career games in Jacksonville, he has rushed for 100 yards on 17 carries (5.9 YPC) with two touchdowns. Tate is also coming off a monster performance against New England, rushing for 102 yards (4.6 YPC) and three touchdowns.
Top WR Andre Johnson also struggled against the Jags (two catches for 36 yards), but he caught eight passes (on nine targets) for 121 yards last week, giving him 1,123 yards this season. With TE Owen Daniels still out, TE Garrett Graham will continue to see plenty of passes headed his way, as Graham has garnered 32 targets over the past three games.
Defensively, Houston allows 26.9 PPG (27th in NFL), despite ranking third in the league in total defense (304 YPG) and second in passing defense (188 YPG). The Texans have been gashed in the red zone though (68% touchdowns, 2nd-worst in NFL), and have been unable to generate turnovers on a consistent basis, tallying just nine takeaways for the entire season, including only one in the past three games combined.
The Jaguars rank last in the NFL in scoring offense (14.5 PPG), total offense (286 YPG), rushing offense (71 YPG) and red-zone efficiency (37% touchdowns). But they have averaged a respectable 22.0 PPG in their past four contests despite gaining only 284 total YPG.
QB Chad Henne is coming off his first multi-touchdown game of the season, throwing for 195 yards and 2 TD in the victory over the Browns. For the season, he has completed 61.4% of his passes, but has only 2,319 passing yards (211 YPG, 6.5 YPA), 6 TD and 10 INT. His favorite target is WR Cecil Shorts, who caught four fourth-quarter passes in last week's win, capping his day with a 20-yard TD reception in the game's final minute. He also had eight catches for 71 yards in the victory in Houston two weeks ago.
But the real story of that matchup was RB Maurice Jones-Drew who totaled 144 yards from scrimmage and scored the game's only touchdown. He is in the midst of a career-worst season with 3.2 YPC, but has reached the end zone in four straight games. Jones-Drew has also loved facing the Texans in his career, piling up 803 total yards (114.7 YPG) and 8 TD in seven starts against them.
Jacksonville's defense has looked like a new team coming out of its Week 9 bye, especially the run defense which has allowed only 68 rushing YPG on 2.7 YPC in the past four games. This is quite an improvement from the 162 rushing YPG on 4.8 YPC allowed in the first eight weeks. However, a lot of this is due to teams choosing to throw all over the Jags, compiling 291 passing YPG in this four-week stretch.
This Jacksonville squad still ranks third-worst in the NFL in scoring defense (29.3 PPG), fourth-worst on third downs (43%), and is tied for 25th in red-zone efficiency (60% touchdowns). The Jags have done a better job recently of taking the football away though, with eight forced turnovers in the past four games.