For the first time in over two months, the Houston Texans will be trying to bounce back from a loss as they visit the New York Jets in Week 15. Game time is set for 4:30 EST on Saturday, December 15, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Fans can catch all the action on the NFL Network.
The Texans have opened the week as 6-point favorites on the road. The over/under for the game is set at 41.5 points. Be sure to check out a full list of the Week 15 betting odds.
Houston saw their incredible 9-game winning streak come to an end last week against the Colts. The Texans made a 2nd half charge after trailing by 10 points at halftime, but they couldn’t quite overcome an early deficit. The good news is that Houston still has a two-game lead over both the Colts and Titans in the AFC South. With two wins in their final three games, the Texans can lock up a division title. However, they may need to win out and get a little help if they want to beat out the Patriots for a first-round playoff bye.
After facing the Jets, the Texans wrap up their season away against the Eagles and home against Jacksonville. On paper, both games are more difficult than Saturday’s game against the Jets. However, Houston’s hold on the AFC South could loosen considerably with a loss this week and two tough games ahead of them, so it’s important that they quickly get back on track.
The Jets, on the other hand, were able to snap their six-game losing streak last week. Sam Darnold’s return from a foot injury turned out to be the spark New York needed to break out of their funk. Darnold didn’t exactly light up Buffalo’s defense, completing 16 of 24 passes for less than 200 yards. But he was efficient in a tough road environment and made a couple of big-time throws to lead a 4th quarter comeback victory.
At 4-9, the Jets don’t have much to play for the rest of the way. However, last week’s win could inspire them to give their best effort the rest of the way. The team is also aware that the job security of head coach Todd Bowles could depend on being able to get a couple more wins at the end of the season. That should keep the Jets motivated at the end of the season, even though they have nothing on the line.
To be honest, there are some good reasons to think the Jets can make this a game and beat the spread. However, the Texans are clearly the better team. The Jets are also 2-4 at home this year, so there’s not much advantage there, especially when their last three home games have all been lopsided losses. I like the Texans to bounce back quickly and win comfortably.
The biggest culprit in Houston’s loss last week was their lack of a running game. Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue combined for just 54 yards on 20 carries, which allowed a weak Houston offensive line to get exposed. As a result, Deshaun Watson spent most of the day running for his life, getting sacked five times. The Texans have now given up the second-most sacks in the NFL, which is an obvious concern.
However, those circumstances are unlikely to repeat themselves this week. The Jets have given up at least 130 yards rushing in their last four games. In two of those games, they’ve conceded over 200 yards. To be fair, a lot of last week’s rushing yards came from Bills quarterback Josh Allen. Of course, Watson is just as dangerous with his legs as Allen. Given that recent track record, it’s tough to see the Jets containing Watson, Miller, and Blue all game. As long as the Texans can run the ball with success, Watson should have a chance to take some shots downfield against a young New York secondary.
On the other side of the ball, the Texans were ripped apart last week by Andrew Luck. Again, that isn’t likely to repeat itself this week. While Darnold played one of his better games last week, he’s not ready to dissect an NFL defense the way Luck does. It certainly doesn’t help that New York’s receivers have underachieved for most of the season. The Jets may also be without leading rusher Isaiah Crowell, who left last week’s game after two carried because of a foot injury. Darnold simply doesn’t have enough help around him to make me think he can have sustained success against a quality defense.
It also won’t help Darnold that he’ll be dealing with the vaunted Houston pass rush. To be fair, New York’s offensive line has held up well this year. But even the best offensive lines are likely to have problems with J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. Given how turnover-prone Darnold has been this season, the Texans have a good chance to create some takeaways if they can put Darnold under pressure.
To be fair, I wouldn’t rule out the Jets keeping this game close for at least a half. However, it’ll be tough to keep Watson and the Houston offense contained for four quarters. It’ll also be tough for Darnold to keep pace without much help around him. Eventually, the Texans should pull away and cover the 6-point spread.