The Houston Texans are heading to the playoffs this season, where they are going is very much still in the air, though. A loss to the Eagles and a win for the Patriots last week muddies the waters a lot. All they had to do is beat the Eagles and they would have been in the driver’s seat going in Week 17. For a first-round bye, they’re going to have to beat the Jaguars and then hold out for losses from the Chargers, Chiefs, and Patriots.
With a win and a loss from those three teams, the Texans will own the 1st seed in the AFC. A win and two losses elsewhere and the Texans will have a bye as the 2nd seed. If the Texans lose, they may slip all the way back to the 6th seed. The Titans and Colts will be playing for the division if that’s the case.
There are obviously a lot of moving parts going on here. We aren’t going to have a clear picture until Sunday evening. That certainly makes things a bit stressful for fans of these teams, but it’s going to make for an exciting finish to the regular season. In a way it is an extension of the playoffs, especially for teams who haven’t clinched a playoff berth yet. Houston clinched thanks to the Steelers losing last week, but who they are playing or when they are playing is iffy.
The Texans have never had a first-round bye in franchise history. Banking on two of those three abovementioned teams losing is not realistic. The Patriots are around 14-point favorites over the Jets at home, while the Chiefs are 14-point favorites over the Raiders. If one of them happens to lose, then they need the Chargers to lose and they are 6.5-point favorites.
The Jaguars enter Sunday with a record of 5-10. It’s been a rough season for them, which has gone downhill really since beating the Patriots. At that point, we expected to see the Jags with a record of 10-5 and playing for playoff positioning here. All they can hope for is to make the playoffs a little harder on their divisional rivals. Get our free Jaguars vs. Texans pick below.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans NFL Week 17 Betting Odds:
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Jaguars vs. Texans Pick:
Blake Bortles has been confirmed as the starting quarterback for the Jaguars in Week 17. Bortles was benched in favor of Cody Kessler late in November and with the Kessler experiment failing, the Jags will go back to Bortles for the final game of the season. Starting Kessler was more of a move to see what they have with him. Maybe he’s a hidden gem sitting on the bench who was just a casualty of playing in Cleveland. Kessler hasn’t shown anything more than backup talent.
It was such a fall from grace for Bortles, who brought his team within a play of beating the Patriots and going to the Super Bowl to getting benched for Kessler. Bortles has thrown 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions with the Jaguars in 2018.
He passed for 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions a season ago. His best season was in 2015 as a sophomore, passing for 35 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. The greatest asset he’s had in Jacksonville is the defense.
The defense got them to the AFC Championship last season and was a catalyst for their win early in the season against the Patriots. They’ve been generally good this year, though it hasn’t been enough to compensate for their offense.
The Jags enter Week 17 5th in the NFL, with an average of 309.4 yards allowed per game. They’ve been elite against the pass again in 2018, allowing just 193.7 yards per game for 2nd. Conversely, the Texans are 18th in the NFL with 358.1 yards allowed per game.
Jacksonville have given up 13.25 points per game the last four weeks, which included a shutout against the Colts. Andrew Luck was held to 248 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. Last week Ryan Tannehill passed for 148 yards with a touchdown and interception.
The defense is likely going to travel to Houston for the Jaguars. And as far as Bortles it concerned, I imagine he wants to play a sharp game in his return to the starting lineup. He’s still an average QB with worse options elsewhere in the league despite getting benched.
There will be chances against a secondary that is 29th in the league. The Texans can get after the run, but have been exposed through the air. There is nothing to play for if you’re the Jaguars. However, there is likely going to be some motivation to hold back a divisional foe. I see a 23-20 or 20-16 final, so the points with the Jaguars looks like a solid choice on Sunday.