I get that every team ends up on Thursday Night Football at some point. I'm not going to argue that practice, because that makes it fair for everyone. But can't the NFL at least match the horrible teams up with teams that are less horrible so that we aren't subjected to games like Texans at Jaguars?
Point spread: Houston -3
The last time these two teams met, Jacksonville won a scintillating 13-6 ball game. Houston averaged a not so robust 3.8 yards per play and, despite there only being one turnover in the entire game, there was only one touchdown between the two teams. In order to hit the over in this game, the teams would need to more than double their offensive output from the first game they played against one another.
While both offenses played very well last week (Houston averaged 6.5 yards per play, while Jacksonville scored 32 points despite only averaging 4.4 yards per play), I can't see them replicating those performances on short rest. The under is the play here.
Over/Under: UNDER 43
As for the game itself, Jacksonville is playing really well lately! They've won three out of their last four games, and have improved their team DVOA from numbers in the -50% range to just -40.1%. Defensively, the Jags aren't the worst team in football anymore, allowing a 26th ranked 5.76 yards per play and 22nd ranked 4.2 yards per carry. Football Outsiders has them ranked above San Diego, Atlanta and Green Bay defensively, according to their DVOA rankings. Sure, zero of their wins have come against teams with an offense ranked higher than 18th in DVOA, but whatever.
Jacksonville's offense is still super-terrible, but it's getting better. It's no longer ranked last in DVOA for rush offenses, ranked ahead of just Baltimore in that category. The Jags are averaging more yards per pass attempt than Kansas City, Buffalo and Cleveland. Again, though, they haven't defeated a defense ranked higher than 17th in DVOA.
Houston's defense is incredibly overrated according to Football Outsiders' rankings, where they sit 21st in the league. More surprising is their DVOA rating against the pass, which is the 26th best mark in the league. The Texans allow just under six yards per pass attempt, which isn't an outrageous number, but they suffer from not having to deal with teams airing the ball out late in many of their games because of the fact that Houston is so often trailing in these situations.
Offensively, Case Keenum has been alright, as he's currently tenth in the NFL in yards per pass attempt. Ben Tate is averaging a more than serviceable 4.3 yards per carry in the place of injured back Arian Foster. They also have not won a game against a team ranked above 17th in DVOA defensively.
The line for this game started at Houston -2.5 at the LVH, and has moved to Houston -3, despite nearly a 50/50 split in action. That would be an indicator that some bigger money is on the Texans, but not enough to cause a drastic line movement.
At the end of the day, while it's nice that the Jags have been playing better football, recent wins and losses are meaningless when betting on football. Houston is better in nearly every measurable category, and you'd be a fool not to pick them.
ATS PICK: Houston -3
Betspin Over/Under All-Time: 2-2-1
Last Week ATS: 10-5-1
Betspin NFL ATS All-Time: 37-45-5