NFL · Sun (9/12) @ 1:00pm ET
|NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas|
If there is one game in Week One of the 2021 NFL season, most fans will not want to watch– the Houston Texans-Jacksonville Jaguars game. Fans will want to see Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne highlights, but that is about it.
However, someone must win even when two lackluster teams such as these play. With all the Deshaun Watson drama in Houston, it is not hard to understand why oddsmakers and the betting public are leaning towards Jacksonville.
But overlooking the Texans might be a mistake.
After winning just a single game in 2020, ranking 30th in points scored, and 31st in points allowed, it was painfully clear that something had to get done in Jacksonville. So, the team fired the head coach and GM and hired a college legend, Urban Meyer, to right the ship.
Oh—and they drafted one of the most highly touted quarterback prospects in recent history, Trevor Lawrence. The team brought in additional young talent via the draft, along with a handful of free agents.
The stage is set for yet another rebuild for the Jaguars. But why should we believe this one is going to amount to much this season?
Yes, Urban Meyer was a great college coach, but he has been out of coaching for a few years. While some college coaches have successfully made the transition from the college ranks, it seems like the more high-profile the coach, the less likely he works out in the NFL.
It is not like Meyer has the bones of a good team to work with. Last season, the Jaguars were dreadful on both sides of the ball. Lawrence will boost the offense at quarterback, and Etienne is an excellent addition to the backfield. But is it reasonable to count on rookies to lift a team out of the cellar?
Defensively, the Jaguars added a couple of good pieces via the draft and free agency. But not enough to make much of an argument that the unit will be any better than it was last season.
There is not much to look forward to when it comes to the Jaguars, but the team they are playing in Week One is not looking too hot either.
The talk about the Texans has been all about Deshaun Watson throughout the offseason, and rightfully so. But his legal issues aside, there is one thing that we can be pretty sure about when it comes to Watson—he is not going to play in Week One.
But that does not mean the Texans are dead in the water.
More than likely, the Texans will go with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. He’s mobile (not as much as Watson) and has a decent arm. He is no Watson, but he is a decent quarterback capable of guiding an offense down the field.
It helps to have good pieces to work with, and he will not have too many good ones in Houston. Brandin Cooks is a solid receiver when he can remain healthy. Chris Conley is a decent No. 2 receiver. Anthony Miller will probably break into the lineup at some point, and Keke Coutee is not half-bad, either.
The Texans might have a decent running game between David Johnson, Phillip Lindsay, Mark Ingram II, and Rex Burkhead. It would help if the offensive line was a little better (20th according to PFF)—but it is better than Jacksonville’s (23rd).
Defensively, the Texans were not much better last season than the Jaguars were—but they were better. Losing JJ Watt stings more from a public relations perspective than it does a defensive one. But the team did not do too much to improve the talent level, either.
It seems like they are putting their hopes for an improved defense in the hands of new defensive coordinator Lovie Smith.
Sports Betting Recommendation
With all of the bad press surrounding the Texans throughout the offseason, it is not hard to understand why the public is betting heavily on the Jaguars (71 percent of the bets; 93 percent of the handle).
But from a talent perspective, there is not much reason to think the Jaguars are going to win this game. Yes, Jacksonville has an incredible talent in Trevor Lawrence. But part of what made him so good at Clemson was the team around him.
In Jacksonville, that team around him is not very good.
Houston, on the other hand, has a veteran in Tyrod Taylor. He is not a great quarterback by any means, but he is good enough to get the Houston offense moving against the Jacksonville defense.
Look for this one to not be too entertaining and low-scoring (take the under). As for who will win—neither team is good nor will be in 2021. But the Jaguars will be worse in Week One. Take the Houston Texans to win against the spread and/or via the moneyline.