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coleryan
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Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans: Preview and Pick

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On 11/18/2013 04:39 PM in NFL
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans: Preview and Pick

The Jacksonville Jaguars are one of the worst teams in the National Football League, but it could be argued that the Houston Texans are just as bad. We will find out this week when both teams battle on the field for what could be a very high draft pick at the end of the season.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans Odds

The opening NFL point spread for this game opened up with the Texans listed as double digit favorites. The current (-10) point spread us attracting action on the road team. This is a strong indication of just how bad the Texans have become as over 58 percent of the early wagering is on the pathetic Jaguars. This line could change leading up to kickoff so check your latest top rated online sportsbooks for the current point spread.

The Jaguars have been struggling this season and one of their problems is the running game. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew continues to struggle. He ran for 41 yards on 21 carries in last week's game against Tennessee and had 23 yards on 14 carries against Arizona. Part of the issue is the offensive line, which is starting its Nos. 3 and 4 offensive tackles and hasn't had starting left guard Will Rackley since the San Francisco game on Oct. 27. However, the line hasn't played well when it was completely healthy, either. Jones-Drew, who missed the final 10 games last season with a Lisfranc injury and has battled ankle and knee issues this season, looks a half-step slow and doesn't seem to have the burst he did throughout his career. They will need a solid running game to move the ball against an angry Texans team.

It is unclear who will be the quarterback for this team or who will win this Sunday.

The latest football betting trends for this game reveal some interesting betting angles. Jacksonville is 1-6 straight up in its last 7 games when playing on the road against Houston and the total has gone over in 4 of Jacksonville's last 6 games when playing on the road against Houston. Jacksonville is 2-6 against the spread (ATS) in its last 8 games on the road and 1-10 straight up in its last 11 games on the road, not to mention1-13-1 straight up in its last 15 games. Houston is 0-4-1 straight up in its last 5 games and 1-3-1 straight up in its last 5 games at home.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.
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11/19/2013 01:52 PM
Matt Schaub's return to the field in Houston was short-lived. Texans coach Gary Kubiak revealed Monday that Case Keenum will remain the team's starting quarterback this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Sticking with Keenum is the sensible move. Then again, it made no sense to bench Keenum during Sunday's 28-23 loss to the Oakland Raiders -- a move that didn't work out.

"I've got total confidence in him," Kubiak said.

His actions Sunday told a different story. Kubiak spoke of Keenum's struggles to change protections and deal with Oakland's blitzes, but isn't experience the best teacher?

"I didn't want to put a young guy in a bad situation," Kubiak said. "I'd do it again. I tried to help out the quarterback and offensive line."

We liked it the first time Kubiak named Keenum the Texans' starter. While Keenum hasn't been perfect, he's not the reason why the Texans keep losing. He's been an upgrade from Schaub.

Facing the toughest situation of his career, Kubiak boldly rolled with Keenum in an effort to save his job. Sunday's loss to Oakland and return to Schaub came out of pure desperation. Kubiak wanted to see if Schaub had anything left from his peak Pro Bowl form. It didn't work.

Schaub almost is certain to be playing elsewhere next season. Kubiak probably has an uphill battle to stay in Houston, too.
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11/20/2013 08:19 PM
Cecil Shorts III on Wednesday said it’s time to move forward.

Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said the same.

Bradley and the third-year wide receiver each said as much Wednesday, with Bradley saying he met with Shorts in recent days to discuss Shorts publicly expressing his disappointment about how he was used during a loss to Arizona Sunday.

Bradley on Wednesday called his meetings with Shorts “great,” and reiterated what he said early in the week – that he didn’t believe Shorts was trying to bring teammates or the team down with his comments Sunday afternoon.

“That would be concerning to me, but knowing Cecil, knowing his heart and knowing what he’s all about, that was not his intent,” Bradley said as the Jaguars (1-9) prepared to play the Houston Texans (2-8) at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday at 1 p.m.

“There are going to be some players who are frustrated and we understand that.”

Bradley addressed the matter with the team Wednesday.

“He made some good points in there, and we talked about it,” Shorts said. “That’s it. We’re moving on to Houston and our minds are focused on that.”

Said Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne, “Gus supported Cecil. He said I can feel your frustration and I’m with you, I support you 100 percent, but the only thing that gets carry-over is when it affects the team, when you’re trying to pull other guys with you. Cecil is not that person. We addressed it and everything is fine.”

Henne said he and Shorts have discussed the situation, and that Shorts “understands where we’re coming from, and it is what it is.”

“There’s a little bit of positive,” Henne said. “He’s fiery. When times are tough playmakers want the ball, it brings out the best in us. Cecil is one of those guys, he wants to win so bad that he wants that ball in most cases.”

Bradley said while he understands there may be frustration, he wants the policy to be for players to approach him. He said his main concern regarding Shorts’ saying what he did was he didn’t want to have a “whole team doing that.”

“I don’t think it will go there – it just felt differently,” Bradley said of his talk with Shorts.

Bradley said he also talked to Shorts about being careful about what he said publicly because what he said Monday didn’t really reflect Shorts accurately.

“It’s not representing Cecil right,” he said. “That was my challenge to him: ‘It doesn’t represent you as who you truly are. You’ve got to be careful making those comments because people will perceive you differently. I just don’t think you want to go there.’

“It was more for him. I think of Cecil in very high regard, in a high light. I want others to see him in a high light. When you make comments like that, sometimes they can be perceived differently. I think that’s the lesson learned.”
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11/20/2013 08:26 PM
- Is the Jags run defense for real? The Jaguars rank 32nd against the run league-wide, but have improved significantly in recent weeks, allowing 83 yards to Chris Johnson and the Tennessee Titans two weeks ago and 14 yards to Arizona last week. The Texans recently lost running back Arian Foster for the season, but they rank 12th in the NFL with 120.3 yards per game and their downhill, zone-blocking scheme is a core part of their offensive philosophy. “We know Houston is run, run, play-action pass and -… boom,” middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said. “Stopping the run obviously is going to be key. That will be our first priority.”

- What do the Jaguars need to do to run? The Jaguars rank 32nd in the NFL in rushing and are averaging 2.7 yards per carry this season. The issue has been more pronounced in recent weeks, with the Jaguars rushing for 1.8 yards per carry against the Titans and 2.0 yards against the Cardinals. Bradley earlier in the week said the team needed to find a way to run, and that figures to be a focus this week. The Texans’ defense is ranked No. 1 in the NFL overall, but is 23rd against the run. “You’re going to have one-on-one matchups up front and we’ll try to double team (defensive end) J.J. (Watt) as much as we can and create some running lanes, but there are some running lanes in there,” Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne said. “Whether they are just stopping the pass that much or teams are just trying to run the ball that’s another note. We’re going to try to run the ball.”

- How do you stop J.J. Watt? Watt, the Texans’ defensive end, remains one of the NFL’s top defensive players, having registered 8.5 sacks, a league-high 30 quarterback hits and a league-high 15 tackles for loss. He also has three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. “You have to know where Watt is at all times,” Henne said. The Texans move the 3-4 end from side to side, but he’ll perhaps line up most often opposite the left guard position, which could be second-year veteran Mike Brewster. Starting guard Will Rackley missed has missed the last two games with a concussion and was limited Wednesday. “J.J. Watt is one of the best players in the NFL,” Brewster said. “It’s obviously a challenge.”
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11/21/2013 10:31 AM
For the past two seasons, the Houston Texans sat atop the AFC South while the Jacksonville Jaguars were near or at the bottom.

Mired in a franchise-worst eight-game skid, the Texans hope to avoid sharing a spot in the division basement with the visiting Jaguars by recording a sixth consecutive victory in the series Sunday.

Houston (2-8) went 22-10 the last two seasons and set its sights on a third straight division title before a 30-9 loss at Baltimore in Week 3 began what's been one of the most frustrating stretches in team history.

While trying to overcome the loss of stars Brian Cushing and Arian Foster to season-ending injuries, the Texans emotionally dealt with the mini-stroke suffered by coach Gary Kubiak earlier this month.

However, Kubiak is entertaining questions about his job security after Sunday's 28-23 home loss to Oakland generated more concern. Kubiak benched quarterback Case Keenum, Matt Schaub and receiver Andre Johnson argued on the sideline after a late failed fourth-down pass attempt and running back Ben Tate called out some fans on a radio show for booing during the game.

"I could feel a lot better. I know that," said Kubiak, who hopes to coach from the sideline and not the press box Sunday. ''I'm just one of many people. Every player, every coach, it has been very difficult.

"It's tough on the organization, everybody, our fans. I feel a lot like everybody else, but I'm the guy that has got to get in there and figure out a way for us to work through it and that's what I'm trying to do."

Kubiak insists he's not lost his team.

"I don't see anybody fraying," he said. "I'm honest with them with where we're at and what we do every day. We're in there working our tails off, just trying to work our way out of this."

Keenum will be back under center for a fifth straight start. He threw for 170 yards with a touchdown and his first interception but was pulled after Houston punted on its first three drives of the second half.

"I think I was really thinking of him to be honest with you," Kubiak said. "I've been in this league a long time and dealt with a lot of quarterbacks. I'm trying to develop one right now. Right or wrong, I made that decision because of the situation I thought I was fixing to put a young player in."

Though the quarterback position has played a part, it's not the only reason Houston has dropped four straight by five or fewer points or been outscored 121-32 after the first half during the eight-game slide.

Tate has rushed for at least 81 yards in two of the last three games but has one of Houston's two rushing TDs on the season. Only Cleveland has fewer with one.

The defense ranks first in the NFL in total yards allowed (286.1 per game) and passing yards (167.5), but is 28th in scoring at 27.6 points per game. Some of that stems from allowing a league-high 96 points off turnovers.

Despite those issues, Houston would appear to have a solid chance to end its misery against Jacksonville (1-9).

The Texans have averaged 29.6 points during a five-game winning streak in the series. Johnson set career highs with 14 receptions and 273 receiving yards in the last meeting, a 43-37 overtime win in Houston last November. Tate ran 12 times for 74 yards and two TDs in a 27-7 win at Jacksonville in 2012.

After snapping a 13-game skid with a 29-27 win at Tennessee on Nov. 10, the Jaguars allowed Carson Palmer to throw for 419 yards and two TDs in a 27-14 home loss to Arizona last Sunday.

Though Jacksonville scored two touchdowns - one more than it had in its first four home games combined - it was held to 274 total yards, including a season-low 32 on the ground. The Jaguars are last in the league averaging 12.9 points, 278.0 total yards and 61.7 rushing yards per contest.

Maurice Jones-Drew has run for a TD in two straight games but gained 64 yards on 35 carries in those contests. However, he's averaged 4.8 yards per carry and rushed for eight TDs in his last nine versus Houston.

The Texans allowed Oakland backup and ex-Jaguar Rashad Jennings to gain 150 yards on 22 attempts last weekend.

Jacksonville hopes to get Cecil Shorts more involved after he was held to two receptions in each of the last two games. He voiced his displeasure after being targeted once through the first three quarters and finishing with 22 receiving yards versus Arizona. Shorts, however, insists he's not trying to create any controversy.

"I just want to help my team get better and improve," he said. "I can do that by getting the ball."

Shorts, who ranked fourth in the NFL with 87 targets through Week 9, caught three passes for 81 yards and a score at Houston in 2012.

The Jaguars hope to have star linebacker Paul Posluszny back after he missed last weekend with a concussion.
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11/22/2013 01:45 PM
So much for that whole winning streak thing.

Faced with a chance to double their win total after ending a season-long skid a week earlier, the Jacksonville Jaguars instead reverted back to recent form.

In dropping their fifth game in five appearances at EverBank Field, the Jaguars rushed for a season-low 32 yards, managed just 274 in total and scored only 14 points - a tick above their league-worst average of 14 - in a 13-point loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Visiting Reliant Stadium for a Week 12 match with the reeling Houston Texans, they'll face an opponent who's had a nearly equal 2013 disappointment standings-wise, but one that's dominated the most recent get-togethers between the squads.

Houston has won five straight against Jacksonville while averaging just short of 30 points per game. The Texans won 27-7 behind two Ben Tate TD runs at Jacksonville last season, and took a 43-37 overtime decision at home, a game in which wide receiver Andre Johnson went off to the tune of 14 catches and 273 yards.

Alongside the futility, the Jaguars have encountered some dissension this week, too.

Wide receiver Cecil Shorts reacted angrily after catching just two passes for the second straight week. He was targeted only once through three quarters in the loss to the Cardinals and vocalized his discontent with the lack of on- field attention.

Shorts was fourth in the league with 87 targets through Week 9, during which the team was 0-8. He went for 81 yards and a score on three catches in the Houston visit last season.

"I just want to help my team get better and improve," he said. "I can do that by getting the ball."

On the ground, veteran Maurice Jones-Drew has a TD in two straight games in spite of just 64 yards on 35 carries - a 1.8-yard average - but he's thrived in the last several years against the Texans, scoring eight TDs and averaging 4.8 yards per rush in the last nine meetings.

Houston was gashed for 150 yards on 22 carries last week by Rashad Jennings, who played 38 games over four seasons with the Jaguars through 2012 before heading to Oakland this season.

The Texans are the league's best defensively when it comes to total yards allowed (286.1 per game) and passing yards allowed (167.5), but they plunge toward the other end of the defensive pack when it comes to rushing yards allowed (118.6 per game, 23rd in the league) and points allowed (27.6 per game, 28th in the league).

Nearly 10 of those 27.6 per game - 9.76, to be exact - have come off turnovers.

The numbers compound the other misery that's been created amid the worst stretch in franchise history - an eight-game losing streak that's dumped Houston from a two-year stay in the AFC South's Division luxury penthouse to its far less-accommodating low-rent floors.

The Texans have lost four straight by less than a touchdown, after the first four games of the skid were by an average deficit of 22 points.

If Jacksonville wins Sunday, in fact, Houston will be dead last in the four- team gathering, at least until it meets the Jaguars again on Dec. 5 in Florida.

"I could feel a lot better. I know that," coach Gary Kubiak said. "I'm just one of many people. Every player, every coach, it has been very difficult. It's tough on the organization, everybody, our fans. I feel a lot like everybody else, but I'm the guy that has got to get in there and figure out a way for us to work through it and that's what I'm trying to do."

Lost to season-ending injuries during the streak have been standout linebacker Brian Cushing and stud running back Arian Foster, while Kubiak himself sustained a mini-stroke during the team's Sunday night loss to visiting Indianapolis on Nov. 3.

Kubiak returned last week to run things from the press box during a 28-23 loss to Oakland and hopes to return to field level this week to squelch some additional controversy.

Starting quarterback Case Keenum - who'd been inserted into the lineup ahead of veteran Matt Schaub - was back on the bench after three failed drives to begin the second half against the Raiders. Schaub then argued on the sidelines with star receiver Johnson after a fourth-quarter misfire and Tate later chastised Houston fans for booing during the game.

Still, the coach sees the turmoil as a result of excessive caring, not a lack of it.

"I don't see anybody fraying," he said. "I'm honest with them with where we're at and what we do every day. We're in there working our tails off, just trying to work our way out of this."

Keenum will start again this week for a fifth consecutive game, and Kubiak, himself a veteran backup behind John Elway in Denver, insisted he gave the youngster the hook last week to augment his development process, not hinder it.

"I was really thinking of him, to be honest with you," Kubiak said. "I've been in this league a long time and dealt with a lot of quarterbacks. I'm trying to develop one right now. Right or wrong, I made that decision because of the situation I thought I was fixing to put a young player in."
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11/22/2013 01:46 PM
Open a can of MJD.

If Jacksonville has a league-proven offensive strength, it's running the ball in the form of Jones-Drew. Meanwhile, if Houston has an easily recognizable weakness on the other side, it's stopping the run.

Jones-Drew's former understudy, Jennings, had an 80-yard TD run among his big plays last week, providing a legit script for his mentor to follow.

Avoid the big mistake.

Remarkably, the Texans enter Week 12 with the best total yardage defense in football -- and a 2-8 record. Many of the decisive points in their close losses have come thanks to huge errors, in the form of pick-6s or kick returns going the wrong way. Avoid that against the Jaguars and the playing field suddenly becomes more slanted in Houston's favor.
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