At least one AFC South team will avoid the dreaded 0-2 start when the Houston Texans host the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2. The game will get underway at 1:00 EST on Sunday, September 15 at NRG Stadium in Houston. Fans in select markets can catch the game on CBS.
Based on our Week 2 NFL odds, the Texans are favored by 8.5 points at home. The over/under for the game is set at 44 points.
Few teams came out of the first week of the season worse off than the Jaguars. To be fair, most expected them to lose their season opener to the Chiefs. However, Jacksonville also lost quarterback Nick Foles to a broken collarbone that will likely keep him sidelined for at least half the season.
But the Jags have no time to wallow in self-pity if they want to avoid a repeat of last year’s 5-11 record. Sunday’s game begins a stretch of three road games in the next four weeks. That will undoubtedly be a difficult task for the Jaguars, who are turning to rookie Gardner Minshew in place of Foles.
Meanwhile, the Texans had perhaps the most heartbreaking loss of Week 1. Houston blew a 21-10 third-quarter lead against the Saints, only to recapture the lead with 37 seconds left in the game. Alas, Drew Brees organized a quick but efficient drive to set up a game-winning field goal as time expired, sending the Texans home with a 30-28 loss.
It wasn’t a bad performance from the reigning AFC South champions. But it’s a loss that’ll be tough to swallow. The Texans must now recover on a short week if they want to avoid a 0-2 start with a road game against the Chargers on tap for next week. On paper, Houston’s early-season schedule is unforgiving, so a home date against the Jaguars is a must-win game for them.
Fortunately for the Texans, they won both head-to-head meetings with the Jaguars last season, including a comfortable 20-3 home win to close out the regular season. They’ve won four of their last five home games against Jacksonville, which is a good sign for the Texans.
The Texans played well enough to win last week, but they also showed a few flaws that will be worrisome moving forward. Meanwhile, it’s tough to criticize Jacksonville too much for losing the Chiefs. The Jags should be able to learn from some of their mistakes and show improvement in Week 2. I don’t know if it’ll be enough for Jacksonville to win, but I think they’ll keep it within a touchdown and beat the spread.
Minshew taking over at quarterback for Jacksonville might not be the end of the world. He was surprisingly good when pressed into duty last week, spreading the ball around to multiple receivers. Granted, the Chiefs didn’t prepare to face him while the Houston defense will have a little game film on him. But Minshew should play well enough on Sunday to give the Jaguars a righting chance.
It should also be noted that the Jacksonville running game had a productive game against the Chiefs. Ultimately, the Jags had to abandon the run because they fell behind. However, if the Jacksonville offense can remain balanced, Leonard Fournette appears to be healthy at the start of the season and has a chance to keep them in the game. More importantly, a steady rushing attack will help take some of the heat off Minshew.
On the other side of the ball, the Texans remain a dangerous team behind Deshaun Watson. Houston’s receiving corps is as deep and talented as any in football. The backfield duo of Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson was also productive last week against a strong New Orleans defense. With good balance and a quarterback like Watson, the Houston offense poses a huge threat to the Jacksonville defense.
That being said, the Texans also allowed Watson to get sacked six times in Week 1. Clearly, Houston’s problems along the offensive line from last season haven’t been fixed. For what it’s worth, the Jacksonville defense wasn’t at its best last week against the Chiefs. Losing Myles Jack to an early ejection certainly didn’t help. But the Jags have a nice pass rush tandem in Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue. Also, Jacksonville’s biggest problem last week was getting beat deep. However, given the problems with Houston’s offensive line, that should be less of an issue because the Texans may not keep Watson protected long enough to throw downfield.
Ultimately, Jacksonville’s ability to run the ball and Houston’s offensive line woes will be enough to keep the Jaguars in this game. Minshew starting at quarterback doesn’t change that. In fact, based on last week, he’s far from a liability. The Jaguars are surely a better team than they showed last week against the Chiefs, as will be the case with most teams. I think they’re at least good enough to beat the 8.5-point spread.