Jaguars vs. Texans Week 17 matchup preview and current betting lines
The Jacksonville Jaguars (7-8) continue to lead the AFC South as they take on the Houston Texans (2-12-1), who also managed to add to the Titans’ losing streak last week for their second win.
But this game is not actually that important for the Jaguars outside of getting to finish the season with a winning record should they win the last two games. If the Jaguars win this game and lose to the Titans in Week 18 to both finish 8-9 with a series split, the Titans still win the AFC South on tie-breakers.
So, you could question the decision to start Trevor Lawrence at quarterback with a toe injury this week when the game the team really needs to win being in Week 18 with the Titans. Reps are important and the Jaguars have been playing well, but if there is any question on the health front, a cautious decision should be made there.
But the other story to this game is can the Jaguars beat Houston? The Texans have won nine games in a row over Jacksonville, including a 13-6 win earlier this year in Week 5. The AFC South has been kind to Houston in an awful year. The division has accounted for both wins and a tie for the Texans, who are still the favorites to get the No. 1 pick in the draft.
We’ll see if Houston takes the loss to make sure that draft pick is locked up. The NFL Week 17 odds have the Jaguars as a 3-point road favorite with a total of 43 points.
Players to watch in the Jaguars vs. Texans game
Zay Jones: The wide receiver has had a career year with 778 yards, but he could not buy a catch against the Jets in rainy conditions last week. We will see if he can avenge his poorest game of the season against Houston where he had a season-low 12 yards on eight targets and three catches. The pass defense has not been the big problem for Houston this year.
Davis Mills: The second-year quarterback has not impressed after a respectable rookie season. Mills has yet to have a game with a 100-plus passer rating this season after he had four such games in 2021. But at least Mills finally led the first fourth-quarter comeback win of his career in Tennessee last week. Earlier this season he led the first game-winning drive of his career against the Jaguars. These may be the final two starts in Houston for Mills, so he needs to put something on tape for his resume.
Our Best NFL Bets for the Jaguars vs. Texans game
We have two NFL Week 17 predictions for this AFC South rematch as the Texans look for a 10th-straight win over the Jaguars.
Jaguars vs. Texans Point Spread Pick: Texans +3 (-110)
The Jaguars vs. Texans spread opened with the Jaguars as a 5.5-point road favorite before moving down 2.5 points towards the Texans as it has become clear this is not a must-win game at all for the Jaguars.
We can set aside much of the nine-game winning streak against Jacksonville for Houston since a lot of those pieces are no longer present for either team. But Lovie Smith’s defense is 3-0 against the Jaguars with Lawrence since last year, and that part is not something to ignore.
The Texans rarely blitz Lawrence, asking him to make throws against seven or eight in the secondary, which he has not done a good job of in three games. It does not help that of his four career games with five dropped passes, three are against the Texans according to Pro Football Reference. That helps explain why he has never completed 60% of his passes in any game against Houston.
For a 2-12-1 team, Houston boasts many one-score losses and impressive efforts as a heavy underdog against the likes of Dallas and Kansas City in the last month. It is hard to blow this team out. The Jaguars have already needed two 17-point comebacks this year to beat the Raiders and Cowboys. This team has not played well against Houston, and styles make fights in the NFL. Let’s go with Houston to make it tough again with the Jaguars possibly looking towards next week as they probably should be.
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Jaguars Total: Under 22 Points (+102)
Jacksonville has scored 21, 16, and 6 points in the three games against Houston with Lawrence at quarterback. The 21 was his NFL debut last year with a late touchdown pass in the final seconds of garbage time.
Normally you could write off rookie mistakes, but the Jaguars again came out and scored a season-low 6 points at home against these Texans in Week 5. Lawrence was intercepted twice in that game, including a Hail Mary to end it.
The Jaguars have not exceeded 22 points in eight games this year, including last week’s 19-3 win over the Jets. This offense has had some explosive games, but it is still more likely than not to score under 23 points this year.
Lawrence having big games has been the push the Jaguars needed in comeback wins recently against the likes of Baltimore and Dallas. But the best way to attack Houston is still on the ground. Travis Etienne is a fine back, but he has not been as productive in recent weeks as when he first took over as starter from James Robinson. Lawrence has not shined yet against these Texans, and he has been limited in practice with a toe injury that is a bit concerning at this stage of the season.
We’ll trust Houston’s past success with Lawrence and the Jaguars to keep the score low, even if the Texans do go on to lose the game. Take the under 22 points from Jacksonville for your NFL bet of the week.Bet on NFL with caesars >