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Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Point Spread - Pick

Houston Texans (4-9 SU, 7-6 ATS) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4 SU, 8-5 ATS)
Week 15 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, December 17, 2017 at 1PM EST
Where: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Florida
TV: CBS

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: HOU +11.5/JAC -11.5
Over/Under Total: 39.5

The Houston Texans come to EverBank Stadium on Sunday for an AFC South matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Last Sunday, the Jaguars scored a big 30-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks, adding more credence to their cause as they now sit alone atop the division at 9-4. The Texans lost at home to the 49ers, 26-16. They now have 6 losses in their last 7 games and are just trying to keep it together after seeing the season get completely sideways. These teams met way back in week one, with the Jaguars showing a hint of what was to come this season, as their defense ran over the Texans and scored enough points on their own to win the game, 29-7. Can the Texans find the right answers this week or will the Jags keep rolling?

The Jaguars are really on a nice roll with 6 wins on their last 7 games. Understandably, some people were withholding judgment, with a lot of their wins coming against bad or so-so teams. That made Sunday's win more than just a typical victory, as the Jaguars showed they can beat a good team that is playing well, with Seattle coming off a win over the Eagles. Jacksonville led 27-10 in the fourth quarter, before the Seahawks gave the Jags a little late sweat with some long-strike touchdowns late. But all in all, it was a good showing on both sides of the ball for the Jaguars and they look for more of the same this week. One thing they can't afford to do is become enamored with how easy this matchup was the first time around, back when Houston actually had some hope.

On Sunday, the formula for success with the Jacksonville offense was in full-display. They don't need QB Blake Bortles to be a prime Dan Marino, but it's been a struggle over recent seasons for him to get the most of those around him. This season, the addition on RB Leonard Fournette gives them the element of electricity on this side of the ball. On Sunday, he ran for 101 yards and a TD, aided by 48 yards from Chris Ivory. Through the air, Bortles was pretty solid and he threw two touchdowns and no picks on 268 yards passing. They have seen new guys step up recently, with Marqise Lee their only healthy featured receiver. But in the last few weeks, rookie receivers Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook have really stepped up and both had touchdowns against the Seahawks on Sunday.

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As is usually the case when the Jaguars do well, the defense is a big part of it. They are not only stout, but capable of making the kinds of plays that can change games. It's not often that Russell Wilson throws three picks, but he did on Sunday, with AJ Bouye getting two picks and Jalen Ramsey adding another. Bouye now has 6 interceptions with Ramsey getting his 4th on the season. Up-front, Yannick Ngakoue had another sack, with Malik Jackson also getting after the quarterback. They have the top-ranked secondary in the league and give up fewer points than any other team. They have gotten 30 turnovers this season and have over twice the amount of sacks than what has been inflicted on their QB. The scary part is that they have been really consistent with bringing the menace on this side of the ball. It started in that first game with Houston and just hasn't stopped since.

Even if you don't particularly like the Texans, it's hard to not feel for what they have been forced to withstand this season. Losing to a two-win 49ers team at home by double-digits is a hard pill to swallow for a defending two-time division champion. In the last 6 games, they have topped 16 points just once. Injuries have played a big role. The offense looked reborn under Deshaun Watson and with him going down, along with some other key guys like JJ Watt, it proved to be too disruptive to their formula for success, which was a delicate one. The offense has ground to a halt, with the defense showing only a fraction of the form they had the last few seasons and even earlier in the season.

It was strange on Sunday, with QB Tom Savage taking a hit that looked to make him seize briefly. He was left in the game, before the team thought better of it and went with TJ Yates, who threw for 175 yards and two touchdowns. As has usually been the case this season, DeAndre Hopkins was the only one who shined on Sunday, with 10 catches for 149 yards and two TDs. One receiver isn't going to be enough. With Watson putting up big numbers, there was hope. Heading into week 15, this is a group that is lost at sea.

The Houston defense has certainly been battered by injuries, but how far they've fallen requires more of an explanation. After all, it's not like they haven't thrived without JJ Watt before. It's just that the loss of Watt and Whitney Mercillus and other losses have affected all areas of the defense. The secondary, once a good one, has bizarrely become very leaky, despite being at full-power personnel wise. Working Brian Cushing back into the rotation will help and Jadeveon Clowney has been making a lot of plays. But only two teams have given up more points than the Texans so far this season.

This one could be a game that looks too easy. We see a Jacksonville team flying high and a Houston team that has fallen into a dysfunctional status. And for those who recall week one's game between the two, it's a strong image. And it's not like Houston has gotten better since then, with the full scope of their hopelessness this season now on graphic display after getting beaten conclusively at home by the 49ers. Could all this info create too stark of a scenario? I like the Jags, but I'm not sure they're bankable yet in this role of double-digit favorite. I'll take the Texans.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Houston Texans plus 11.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Houston vs. Jacksonville game by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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