Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans (11/3/19): NFL Betting Picks, Lines

Last Week: 4-9
All-Time Results: 54-52-1, +9.43 Units

Houston Texans -1.5 @ Jacksonville Jaguars {London} – .25 Units

Houston Texans -2 (+102) @ Jacksonville Jaguars {London} – .1 Units

When handicapping London Games – like short-weeks & Super Bowls – my consideration is to which team I think will best handle the vagaries of an unusual travel schedule.  In other words, I often on lean which coach I think is better.  Bucking that general philosophy here – picking the Texans despite my concerns about their coach.  I like them to win entirely because I think Quarterback is a legend in the making.  A legend of the strip that should NEVER lay less than 3 points vs. a below-average team.   Especially on a neutral – it’s just disrespectful.

houston texansBetting less than my full amount, however – because I fear we have a McCarthy situation here.  For twelve years in Green Bay, Mike McCarthy by any measure was one of the most successful coaches in the NFL.  He earned a Super Bowl ring within three years of taking the job.  Throughout his 12 year tenure, he posted a 62% win percentage and made the playoffs on 9 separate occasions more than 2x Super Bowl champion, Mike Shanahan or  Hall of Famer, George Allen did in their entire careers.

That said, I don’t think McCarthy was particularly good.  He inherited Brett Favre, transitioned to Aaron Rodgers and generally had a basic pro-level NFL playbook.  Charlie Sheen once said that he turned terrible writing on Two & a Half Men into gold with his delivery.  Likewise, Aaron Rodgers took McCarthy’s ordinary game plans and made them into masterpieces.  Having a 62% Winning Percentage coaching a team lead by an All-Time talent at the most important position in sports is just Okay like having an iPhone 6 is just okay.  Mike Shanahan coached John Elway for 4 years and won 2 titles.  Bill Belichick coached Tom Brady for 20 years and won 6 ( and counting).  That type of conversation rate is what a good coach does.

That brings me to the current Texans situation.  DeShaun Watson has impressed me than any other QB this year – with apologies to Russell Wilson & Aaron Rodgers.  The Clemson Alum was rightfully compared to Michael Jordan by Raiders HC, describing his play as something you might see a couple of times a lifetime.   Although it was short-lived due to injury, Watson’s rookie season compares favorably to the best QB seasons ever – his 84 QBR for that season ranks top 10 all time.

Watson came out of the gates an All-Time great – and has improved.  Watson’s downfield accuracy has made a leap, while his mobility and feel for the game remain other-worldly.  Watson has a 10-3 ATS record as an underdog and I would argue laying less than 2 points on a neutral field is a relatively equal insult.

However, I don’t expect the Texans to make noise because I don’t think Bill O’Brien is elite.  I don’t think he thinks so either.  Selling long term assets in the Larry Tunsil trade with intentions to try and win now rather than build around the best QB the franchise will have for the next half-century, I think is indicative of O’Brien’s concerns about the viability of this team.  Much like Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati, it is only kind of impressive that he has made the playoffs so regularly.   I think the team has a relatively low ceiling and not much of a distinctive identity.

They also have a high floor.  Watson will not let them lose this marquee contest.

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Houston Texans -5.5 (+160) @ Jacksonville Jaguars {London} – .1 Unit

On the other side of the ball, it has been rumored we may a Tony Romo situation evolving in Jacksonville.  Romo – much like Dak Prescott in his turn – took over for an injured, aged Veteran in Drew Bledsoe and played so well the old man never got his job back.  Gardner Minshew likewise has played well enough for the Jaguars to beckon the question should the job be his indefinitely – even after opening day starter, Nick Foles returns.

While few outside of Tom Brady and Tony Romo have maintained success at the NFL level after being drafted in the 6th round or later, there are these shining examples that give folks like Gardner Mishnew hope.  For every, Dak Prescott, however, there are 10 Austin Davis’s: younger plays who excel early but never become regular starters.  Minshew has decent weapons and one of the best running attacks in football. He has a significantly below average statistical profile – 24th in QBR, 23rd in Intended Air Yards – simply because he is decent but not above average.

We have close to evenly talented rosters here.  I don’t expect Minshew to hold serve with one of the best in the game in Watson.

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Born in Chicago, born for Las Vegas, Mackenzie is a graduate of Yale University with a BA in English & Creative Writting. Mackenzie runs AlternativeStats.blog, which seeks to by-pass the minutiae of commonly cited sports statistics and expose the heart of what drives athletic success. After several successful years investing in Las Vegas real estate, Mackenzie is excited to transition in 2019 into betting on sports full time, as well as documenting his thought process as he further learns the craft.

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