Jacksonville Jaguars Vs. Houston Texans Preview (1/1/23): Betting Odds, Prediction, Depth Chart

While both of these teams started their seasons inauspiciously, the Jags have turned it around by winning 5 of their last 7 games, while the Texans haven’t; they have just two wins and a tie. That being said, they did just upset the Titans, and took the Chiefs to overtime- there are signs of life in Houston as of late. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some predictions for this late-season divisional clash.

Jaguars Vs. Texans Betting Odds

The Jaguars are moderately favored in this one, with the line set at 4 points. The points total is set at 43, so Vegas expects a relatively low-scoring affair.

Jaguars Vs. Texans Prediction

This late in the season, motivation level can be an enormous determinant of game results. In this game, it’s going to be one aspect that is extremely hard to discern; the Texans are “leading” the race for the upcoming draft’s top overall pick by just half a game over the Chicago Bears, while the Jaguars have launched themselves back into the division race. In the Jags’ case, everything actually hinges on Week 18, a second head to head matchup with Tennessee. This week means nothing as far as the standings; next Sunday’s winner of the game in Jacksonville will win the division, regardless of what happens in Houston on Sunday.

For the Texans, eyes are already on next season. Dumping Deshaun Watson for an absolute bounty of picks signaled the start of a true rebuild, so there’s no surprise or shame when it comes to all of the losses piling up this year. That being said, the turnaround has to start eventually, and the players and coaches have to be wondering what their role will be when that time comes, or if they’ll have one at all. Of course, even when the tank seems to be on, it’s worth considering the position of the head coach whenever a team wins nearly no games all year; is Lovie Smith’s second NFL stint going to be short-lived, or will he be given another chance with a presumably very different roster?

It seemed like a full-on rebuild might also be in the Jaguars’ future after they started the year 2-6, but everything has turned around since the midway point of the season. They’ve beaten some solid teams as of late, including a Ravens team with an active- and playing pretty well- Lamar Jackson, and the Dallas Cowboys, who Jacksonville took down in an overtime shootout. Over this stretch, Trevor Lawrence has finally begun to show, with some consistency, the ability that made him the first overall pick a couple of years ago. The big question now is how he will respond and perform in the biggest opportunities of his professional career so far.

Like I said, motivation levels are going to be relevant, and hard to pin down, as there’s a real chance that they could be low for both sides. That being said, Jacksonville isn’t actively helped by a loss like Houston is, but they also might be resting starters, or at least using them in a limited capacity, to use this matchup as a mini-bye for next week’s clash for the AFC’s #4 seed. While it’s not my favorite bet of the week, I’m going to have to pick the Texans to cover; that number of 4 is ominous, as a field goal could easily be the decider in this one, and there are still players and coaches fighting for their job on that sideline. The under is a play I’m more comfortable with, as the pace should be pretty lethargic by all indications.

Betting Trends

The Jaguars are 5-1-1 against the spread in their past 7 games, while the Texans have only covered in 2 of their past 9 games against teams with losing records.

The over has hit each of the past four games following a Jags win of more than 14 points. Meanwhile, the under is undefeated in the Texans’ past 4 divisional games

Key Injuries

Jaguars Injuries: Cam Robinson (O), Travon Walker (Q), Shaquill Griffin (Q)

Texans Injuries: Nico Collins (O), Dameon Pierce (O), Derek Stingley Jr. (O)

Key Matchups

Jaguars Rushing Attack vs. Texans Run Defense

In most regards, the Jaguars offense has been pretty average this year, with a bit of an uptick in recent weeks. That improvement has come in large part on the passing end of the spectrum, so let’s focus on the other side of things; the run game. The backs have been fine, but PFF ranks the o-line as the 30th-best run-blocking unit in the league. What’s the end product, you may wonder? The answer would be 128.5 yards per game, just outside the top ten in the league, at a clip of 4.8 per carry. Travis Etienne, who got hot for awhile but has since cooled off, is the team’s leading rusher with 1,000 yards on the dot, while Jamycal Hasty has been the #2 man since James Robinson departed, and Lawrence is a bit of a threat himself; he puts up 5.2 yards per rush and actually leads the team with 5 ground scores. It’s an interesting group, but they’ll potentially have to overcome a poor blocking performance to have success.

Luckily, they’re facing a Texans defense that has been pretty pedestrian across the board, ranking near dead last by most metrics. Specifically for run defense, PFF places them 31st in the league, as they’ve allowed almost 170 yards per game on almost 5 per carry. Other than rookie linebacker Jake Hansen, who has excelled in relatively limited snaps, it’s been a pretty dismal group; edge rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo is the only other player who PFF has given a grade that could be considered anywhere near “passing”. Let’s see if the run defense can have an uncharacteristically good day, punish the Jaguars for their biggest offensive weakness, and make them one-dimensional.

Texans Receivers vs. Jaguars Secondary

Similar to the defensive side of the ball, the Texans offense is dead-last or close to it in most ways, but they have a slightly more notable strength; their receiving group is ranked 24th by PFF, and yes that’s significantly better than any other aspect of their offensive game. Unshockingly, Brandin Cooks has been the team’s top receiver with 554 yards on 48 catches, with Chris Moore coming up closely behind in both categories. Tight end Jordan Akins actually leads the team in touchdown catches, although he does so with a total of 3. The team will be missing their third main receiver, as Nico Collins continues to miss time due to injury. The backs have gotten involved as well, as Rex Burkhead and Dameon Pierce have both caught 30 or more balls this season. Hopefully, this group will be able to give some lift to an offense that, thus far, has been the worst yardage-gaining offense in the league, and the third-worst by scoring total.

Somewhat luckily for Houston, their “strength,” so to speak, lines up with the Jags’ biggest defensive weakness. In a defense that has overall been mostly mediocre- 20th overall by PFF’s estimation- the secondary stands out as the worst group, garnering the 25th-best coverage grade in the NFL. The safety duo of Andre Cisco and Rayshawn Jenkins are tied for the team lead with 3 interceptions apiece, and Cisco is the team’s second-highest-rated coverage defender. He finds himself behind cornerback Tyson Campbell, who is limiting opponents to just about 10 yards per reception, and below a QB rating of 90. It’s tough to find more positives in the group, so there will be opportunities for Houston; we’ll have to see if they’re able to take advantage with their own depth somewhat compromised.

Jaguars Depth Chart

QB: Trevor Lawrence
RB1: Travis Etienne Jr.
RB2: JaMycal Hasty
LWR: Marvin Jones Jr.
RWR: Christian Kirk
SWR: Zay Jones
TE1: Evan Engram

Texans Depth Chart

QB: Davis Mills
RB1: Rex Burkhead
RB2: Dare Ogunbowale
LWR: Phillip Dorsett
RWR: Brandin Cooks
SWR: Chris Moore
TE1: OJ Howard

From starting my own blog in Middle School, to working on a friend’s in college, and finally joining the Lineups team this year, I’ve been writing about sports for over a decade and betting on them as long as I’ve been legally able. I graduated from the University of Michigan last year, where I took sports journalism classes alongside my business major. Having played and watched sports for almost my whole life, I aim to provide insight and entertainment, as well as profitable picks, in my writing about professional and collegiate leagues.

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