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Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans Point Spread - Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Houston Texans (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
Week 1 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 1PM EST
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
TV: CBS

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Betting Odds: JAC +5/HOU -5
Over/Under Total: 39.5

The Jacksonville Jaguars come to NRG Stadium on Sunday to face the Houston Texans in week one AFC South action. The Jaguars once again saw a season go sour in 2016 when a lot of people were suspecting an upturn. Yet again, there is cause for optimism and we'll see if the Jags can see it manifest into actual results. Houston is the two-time defending champion of this division and looks to make it three in a row in 2017. While they look to get their 2017 campaign off to a good start, their thoughts are also with the woes of their hometown, which was pelted relentlessly by Hurricane Harvey.

There is a certain tastelessness in even trying to exploit tragedy as a form of gaining a wagering edge. But for those betting on this game, it's worth noting the emotional component of this game with Houston having been ravaged by recent flooding. Playing the Jaguars certainly helps the Texans' chances, but the urge to give the city a positive development should make the Texans just that much harder to beat in this week one matchup. Then again, when people are dealing with huge real-life problems, it takes more than a Texans win to put things on the right track. It's just something to consider.

In addition to that sentimental angle, we just need to look at a team like Houston with adjusted lens. It's not a team that impresses along the lines we normally look. Case in point is how they've won two straight AFC South titles without really having good play at the quarterback position. Last season, their defense wasn't even that stout, the offense was sometimes stagnant, and they still managed to get to the postseason and even win a playoff game.

Deshaun Watson might eventually be the Houston quarterback of the future, but he might not quite be NFL-ready, which means Tom Savage will open behind center for the Texans. Last season, Savage was able to become the starter late in the season with only a concussion costing him a playoff start. Savage will be the Texans' fifth different starting QB in as many seasons. In head coach Bill O'Brien's first two seasons, they ran the ball more than anyone and look for more of the same in 2017 with Lamar Miller leading the way, along with rookie D'onta Foreman and second-year back Tyler Erwin.

In the Houston passing game, they still have DeAndre Hopkins, whose production should go back up, as he never really clicked with Brock Osweiler. It hurts that second-year WR Will Fuller is out until November and Braxton Miller is questionable for this game. The contract holdout of LT Duane Brown is disruptive and losing Derek Newton didn't help. Otherwise, it's a line that got its act together pretty well last season, with guys like like Greg Moncz and Kendall Lamm. The additions of rookie Julien Davenport and Nick Martin coming back from injury should help.

A few key draft picks and a couple guys coming back from injury should see the Houston defense reclaim its previous form. JJ Watt returns to a line that features a surging Jadeveon Clowney and a very promising DJ Reader. They should be good at getting after quarterbacks and stopping the run. In the middle, Whitney Mercillus is a steady and versatile presence with another developing force in Benardrick McKinney. Rookie Zach Cunningham adds an interesting dimension and Brian Cushing is still a factor against the run. Getting corner Kevin Johnson back from injury will help. They still have Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson, but they lost Quintin Demps and AJ Bouye. They need Corey Moore and Andre Hal to shine at safety, while getting another potentially valuable piece back from injury in KJ Dillon.

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The Jaguars last 8 losses last season were by single-digit deficits, but it's still hard to write off a 3-13 campaign when so many were forecasting a Jacksonville surge in 2016. Maybe some changes on the coaching staff will help. Doug Marrone is now the head coach, with former Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin brought in to oversee affairs. At quarterback, it will be Blake Bortles who is at what might be called a crossroads season where he needs to show his worth. A lot will be asked from high draft pick Leonard Fournette to add a game-changing dimension at running back. The Jaguars' inability to run the ball has handcuffed an aerial game that should be a lot better.

Jacksonville's offense has some good aerial weapons like Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, along with promising Marqise Lee. They added rookie Dede Westbrook and have a useful tight end in veteran Marcedes Lewis. Bortles needs to see his accuracy improve to get the most of this group. Up-front, they lost who they thought was going to be a good left tackle with Branden Albert suddenly retiring. Cam Robinson will have to show he's a capable left tackle, while AJ Cann and Jermey Parnell have to get better on the right side. At least they have a good anchor at center with Brandon Linder.

Coughlin put some attention into the other side of the ball for the Jaguars and maybe it will pay off sooner than later. Last season, they weren't even a mildly impactful group, registering just 7 picks and not getting after opposing quarterbacks. Calais Campbell was added up-front and should take away some attention from others like Yannick Ngakoue, Dante Fowler, Sheldon Day, and Duwuane Short. They also added Malik Jackson and Stefan Charles in free agency. The front has some nice depth now. Linebacker Myles Jack was moved to the middle, while Paul Posluszny goes to strong-side and they could use more from Telvin Smith. A retooled secondary could lead to a dynamic corner-duo with AJ Bouye and Jalen Ramsey, to go along with Aaron Colvin. Barry Church is an upgrade at safety, but they need more from S Tashaun Gipson, who was pedestrian in his first season with the Jags in 2016.

The addition of Coughlin could be key and at the very least, he seems to been able to transform a desultory Jaguars special teams and made that a team asset heading into 2017. Several areas have been improved and we'll see if the offense can take flight a bit better. They are part of what looks to an improved AFC South and for Houston to stay on top, the changes they made will need to materialize in a very positive way. At the end of the day, we see these two teams combining to create more than 40 points on Sunday in week one.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Jacksonville vs. Houston game going over 39.5 points on Sunday. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Jaguars vs. Texans game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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