Preview: Jaguars at Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-9) O/U 44

 By Kyle Johansen

In the best game of week one, it looked as if Deshaun Watson had led the Texans to a last-minute game-winning drive. But the Texans defense couldn’t contain Drew Brees, who put Will Lutz in field goal range with under a minute to play and led the Saints to a 2-point victory over Houston.

Earlier that day, the Jaguars lost Nick Foles for the year, but that wasn’t their biggest problem on Sunday. The vaunted Jacksonville defense looked lost and out of place against Patty Mahomes and the Chiefs. While you can cut the Jags some slack going up against the NFL’s best offense, they didn’t even put up a fight. It’s only one week, but the Jacksonville defense currently sits at 30th overall in Football Outsiders Defensive DVOA.

Texans Offense vs. Jaguars Defense

Despite coming up short Sunday night, Deshaun Watson was as good as could have been expected. He was 20-30 for 268 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT and added 40 rushing yards on 4 attempts with 1 TD. It doesn’t hurt having the best wide receiver in football to throw to, and Deandre Hopkins didn’t disappoint, catching 8 of 13 targets for 111 yards and 2 TD’s.

On the ground, Carlos Hyde was surprisingly fast, picking up 83 yards on 10 carries. Duke Johnson was right behind him with 57 yards on 9 carries. With Watson’s 40 yards rushing, the Texans picked up 180 yards on the ground in total.

After allowing old man Shady McCoy to run for 81 yards on 10 carries last week, you can’t put too much confidence in the Jacksonville defense this Sunday against the Texans. Then again, it’s one week and the Jaguars are as talented on defense as any other team in the league.

With Tyreek Hill out of the lineup, it will be even easier for the Jaguars to have success on D. The Chiefs still have two elite talents to throw to in Travis Kelce and the reborn Sammy Watkins, but the Jaguars should be able to shut one of them down with Jalen Ramsey in coverage. And if Myles Jack decides to not get thrown out of this game, the Jaguars could conceivably shadow Watkins with Ramsey, and let the fleet-footed Jack keep tabs on Kelce.

Jaguars Offense vs. Texans Defense

Was the season-ending injury to Nick Foles really a blessing in disguise? If 22-25 for 275 yards is any indication, then it’s a distinct possibility. That was Gardner Minshew’s stat line after being unexpectedly thrust into the starter’s role mid-game.

Seriously. Gardner Minshew. Props to anyone who knew this guy’s name before Sunday. And maybe we should have known who he was, as his 2018 season at Washington State was fantastic. Playing in Mike Leach’s air raid offense helps, but Minshew was 468-662 for 4779 yards with 38 TD’s to 9 INT’s. That’s a completion percentage of 70.7% and a yards per attempt of 7.2 yards.

Still, Minshew was only a 6th round pick and played only one season for Washington State, having transferred from East Carolina. It’s impossible not to be impressed by his debut performance though, even considering an abysmal Chiefs defense.

On the ground against the Chiefs Leonard Fournette was effective, averaging 4.7 YPC with 66 yards on 13 carries. While he’s no Alvin Kamara, the Saints ran at will against the Texans, and the Jaguars figure to establish the run early in this game.

The Spread

After the Texans impressed on the national stage, despite a loss, they opened as heavy home favorites of 8.5-points and that was bet up another full point to 9.5 before seeing some buy-back on the dog. The current number ranges from Texans -9 to -9.5 depending on the book.

Will the Jaguars defense rebound after their shellacking on Sunday? The big bettors seem to think so, as this is shaping up as a Pros vs. Joes game. Despite a 50/50 ticket count, the Jaguars are receiving 79% of the money in this game.

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