Mr. Sims has already gone ahead and stated the obvious – the Jaguars don’t have much hope against the Houston Texans this week. The only thing the Jags have going for them is their streak of not getting blown out when playing on the road. Even so, Vegas is holding steady and leaving the Jaguars as 15.5-point underdogs. The Jaguars are the best at something at least – they own the two largest point spreads in the NFL this year (against Green Bay and now Houston).
“We play well when the spread is THIS big!”
The Jaguars are going to need a Herculean effort just to be in this game at halftime, let alone have a chance at winning this game. The recent trend for the team is to get down big early (see: Lions, Colts) and then score some garbage points at the end. If the offense can just figure out how to translate that 4th quarter consistency over to the first half, the game might at least be interesting. So how might Sunday play out? Just take my weekly predictions and assume the opposite – that tends to work well.
Blaine Gabbert will throw for 200+ yards and a touchdown: FACT
The final seven games of the season have one overlying theme – is Blaine Gabbert still the quarterback of the future? If he wants to provide some hope, he needs to start producing against good defenses like the one he’s going to face Sunday. Blaine’s overall yardage production has increased incrementally over the season, particularly when he gets the ball to Cecil Shorts. Everyone’s still waiting on Justin Blackmon to show up, but Laurent Robinson got involved in the offense often last week. Gabbert looks like he’s getting into a rhythm on offense and if the coaching staff starts using the no-huddle more, Gabbert’s production should increase.
Arian Foster will have less than 100 yards rushing: FICTION
What’s one reason the Texans have such good rushing numbers? They get ahead early and ride out that lead. Unfortunately, the Jaguars are quite adept at getting behind early. This means Foster and Ben Tate are going to get a ton of work early and often. The Texans are really built on running the football and play-action, so expect them to take a few shots if they can’t get Jacksonville down big in the first half.
The Texans will have more than 4 sacks: FACT
The offensive line has played better as of late, but they’re still generally giving up a few sacks a game. The last time they played the Texans, they gave up 3 sacks, 1.5 from JJ Watt. With the way the running game has been struggling, I expect the Jaguars to start going into three-receiver sets more often, leaving Gabbert vulnerable in the pocket. MJD’s absence has had a much more significant effect on the running game than most anticipated, and it’s certainly affecting the passing offense and pass-protection.
Austen Lane will record a sack: FACT
With all the disappointing play on defense, particularly on the defensive line, a lone bright spot has been Austen Lane’s steady play. I’m going out on a pretty shaky limb predicting a sack for the defense at all (the Jaguars only have 10 on the season), but if anyone has a chance it’s Lane.
Can the Jaguars cover the 15.5 point spread? Absolutely – the Jaguars have become masters of the back-door cover this season, particularly when the spread is massive. Winning the game outright is a totally different story. Unless the defense that stymied Green Bay a few weeks ago shows up, the Jaguars are likely in for another long day.
Texans 31 – Jaguars 17
– Daniel Lago