It seems a familiar scene occurs every Sunday: the Houston Texans (8-1) get matched up with an inferior opponent on the early TV slate.
Well Houston, how do the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8) sound?
The Jags will try to play spoiler, but there’s not much to be hopeful for in Jacksonville other than a bid for the No. 1 pick. Blaine Gabbert will continue his tryout for the Jacksonville QB of the future and will need a big game for his team to contend.
The Texans, meanwhile, want to build on last Sunday’s win against Chicago, which they turned into a defensive bloodbath. An injection of offense from Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson would help.
Jacksonville’s 23rd-ranked pass defense awaits. To make matters worse for the Jags, that’s their best-ranked unit on their entire team.
Where: Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas
When: Sunday, Nov. 18 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Watch: CBS (Check Local Listings)
Betting Line: Texans (-16), Over/Under: 42.5 (via Covers.com)
The Jaguars will be without Maurice Jones-Drew once again, so their offense will be the anemic version we’ve seen the past few weeks. Hence why the line leans toward the Texans favorably.
I’m not a big fan of taking favorites by double-digit points, for fear of a late backdoor cover. Simply, it’s just too many points to give away normally. The Jags, though, are not a team to back under any circumstances after losing convincingly to Indianapolis. Sounds like a stay-away to this observer.
The over/under, however, has some value, as it was likely be on Houston to cover most of the points. A 28-3 win, for example, wouldn’t be far-fetched and yet the total would be way under. Something to consider for all the office pool players out there.
Jacksonville Injury Report via ESPN (as of 11/16/2012)
CB Rashean Mathis
FB Greg Kones
DB Dwight Lowery
RB Maurice Jones-Drew
QB Blaine Gabbert
C Brad Meester
RB Montell Owens
Houston Injury Report via SI.com (as of 11/16/2012)
RB James Casey
NT Shaun Cody
TE Owen Daniels
S Quintin Demps
CB Johnathan Joseph
G Wade Smith
RB Ben Tate
WR Kevin Walter
Jacksonville: WR Cecil Shorts
A quintessential Flex-play and a low WR3 option for desperate fantasy owners, Shorts has quietly made a name for himself as a garbage-time guru.
He’s currently averaging 8.2 points per game in standard-scoring leagues, mostly due to a second half touchdown when the game is out of hand. 500 yards and four touchdowns is a nice loot coming from the league’s 26th -ranked offense.
Against the Texans, we may see an early blowout yet again, so Shorts should have a ton of three-deep coverage and five-yard cushions to make some fantasy plays in the second half. After all, the fantasy whistle doesn’t blow until the game is officially over.
The Texans’ defense should feast on a Jaguars team devoid of star players and point-scorers. They have held seven teams to under 20 points, and are yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season.
Both J.J. Watt and Connor Barwin have been eating sack lunches on Sunday afternoons; a day against Blaine Gabbert should be one tasty meal. Watt has a league-leading 10.5 sacks this season, while Barwin has three in the past two games.
Key Matchup: Houston’s Running Game vs. Jaguars Defensive Front
The Texans lead the NFL in time of possession, and for good reason. Houston likes to establish the running game and then open the playbook with some play-action fakes to get down the field. The latter will likely be unnecessary as the Jaguars run defense ranks 29th overall.
Which leads us to this fact (h/t Houston Texans Official Twitter):
Adrian Foster will be off to the races if Jacksonville doesn’t shore up in the trenches. The Jags will be preparing for zone-runs all week, but they have nobody on the roster than has the combination of power and agility much like Foster.
They will have an idea on Sunday. Whoever wins that battle will in turn take the game as well.
Same old story for Houston. The Jags haven’t won at Reliant Stadium since 2009 and lost the last four against Texans. Those streaks will continue.
Texans 28, Jaguars 6
Mike Shiekman is a Breaking News Writer for Bleacher Report. He enjoys giving fantasy advice and the NFL Red Zone. Follow him on Twitter @TheRealShiek