Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
Time: 10 a.m. PT
Overreactions are an annual staple coming out of Week 1 action. The fact that it’s a one-game sample simply doesn’t matter; people just love jumping to conclusions, as wrong as they may end up being.
Applying such thinking to the defenses sported in Jacksonville and Houston after last week’s disappointing season-opening defeats is blasphemy, however.
Sure, the Jags were roasted for 40 points in their opener, but that came opposite the offensive juggernaut that is the Patrick Mahomes-led Kansas City Chiefs. A little more than 24 hours later, the Texans let their opponent put up a 30-spot, though to their credit, they impressively held the New Orleans Saints to just three points in the first half before Drew Brees and Co. did their thing to win at the horn.
With that in mind, it can be surmised that both defenses are in fact better than how they fared in Week 1. And they’ll each be in a spot to be closer to their normal output.
For Houston, they’ll get a Jaguars offense that is already missing its starting quarterback, Nick Foles, who is out with a broken collarbone. Enter rookie Gardner Minshew, and while the sixth-round draft pick was actually real solid in his debut last week, there’s a few things that need to be noted about that performance.
One, let’s not forget the Chiefs don’t exactly boast a strong pass defense. After all, they surrendered more yards through the air than all but one NFL team a year ago. Throw in the fact that they were winning decisively all game and that leads to looser coverage, which only aided Minshew in completing 22 of 25 throws.
In addition, this was a complete unknown for Kansas City. Obviously, they did not anticipate having to face the backup quarterback, but with a full week of preparation, Houston figures to be ready for Minshew. In fact, knowing that, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone could elect to implement a run-heavy game plan behind Leonard Fournette, something that would be very beneficial for an under.
Either way, I think the Texans will have their way at home with the Washington State product under center for his first career road assignment.
On the other side of the equation, a humbled Jacksonville D must contend with one of the best young QBs in all of pro football, that being Deshaun Watson. But as great as Watson has been since first coming into the league two years ago, the Jags have actually had his number.
In the two meetings between the AFC South rivals last season, Watson failed to engineer more than 20 points in either game while putting up modest numbers. Altogether, he was 37-for-59 (62.7 percent) for just 373 passing yards and a touchdown, including one outing that saw him produce a season-low 139 yards through the air in Week 7.
Watson also saw the Jaguars once during his rookie campaign — in his NFL debut, no less — when he relieved a struggling Tom Savage to begin the second half. The result of that affair? He ended up 12-for-23 (52.2 percent) with 102 yards, leading Houston to only one scoring drive. So, in 10 quarters of football facing off with the Jags defense, Watson has yielded 47 points combined. Another similar output would be encouraged for this bet.
True, Jacksonville is a bit banged up on the defensive side of the ball, as Yannick Ngakoue (hamstring) and A.J. Bouye (hamstring) are both sidelined. At the same time, this is a unit that’s deep enough to put forth a useful effort that can help churn out a lower-scoring affair.
For this bet, I want to be on the key number of 44 (think 27-17/30-14), so I recommend buying the half-point like I am. Play: UNDER 44 (-120)
Last Week’s Results: Ravens-Dolphins Under 40 (loss), Texans-Saints Over 51 (WIN)
Zylbert’s 2019 NFL Over/Under Betting Record*: 1-1, -0.1 unit
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit