Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans – Football & Racing News – Star Sports

This will be the biggest game for the Texans since they were in the playoffs in the 2019 season and with a win they can take the lead in the AFC South as both teams would be 7-4 with Houston having the tiebreaker.

It’s been two months, but the Jacksonville Jaguars are still thinking about their lopsided defeat in the first meeting with the Houston Texans this season as they prepare to play them again Sunday.

The Texans, one of the surprise teams of the season won that game 37-17 in what was their first victory of the season and have just won three games in a row overall for the first time since 2018 with the play of rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud a major part of that success. Stroud is a lock to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, but he keeps gaining in the MVP race as well for how he has transformed this Houston offence so quickly. The second overall draft pick ranks second in the NFL with 2,962 yards passing and is the second rookie in NFL history to have three straight 300-yard passing games.

The Jaguars come into the game having bounced back from a 34-3 dismantling at the hands of the hands of the 49ers by handing out a decisive victory of their own last week in the shape of a 34-14 defeat of the Titans. They may actually be happy to be back on the road as the Jaguars are unbeaten on the road this season, having won all five games outside of Jacksonville. They won at Indianapolis, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh. They also won consecutive games (home and away) against Atlanta and Buffalo in London. The last time Jacksonville won five road games in the same season was in 2007. The Jaguars are actually 4-0 against the spread on the road this season and starsports.bet rate them -1.5 (10-11) favourites for this clash, the game shaping up to be closer than the meeting earlier in the season.

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Every division rivalry has its own unique narrative. A lot of fans might be surprised to learn that the Texans have been dominating the Jaguars for years. Houston are 21-5 SU over the last 26 meetings dating back to the 2010 season. It’s true that the Jaguars outside of the 2017 season where they reached the AFC Championship Game have had a rough decade, but since 2018 the Texans are 10-1 against the Jaguars. Houston swept the series in 2021 and split the series last year.

Much of the Texans success can be attributed to rookie QB C.J. Stroud who has made an impact that is rarely seen by a newcomer to the NFL at this position and it’s not as though as Stroud is surrounded by veteran talent. In truth he’s carrying a team that is mid-pack on defence, has had multiple members of his offensive line injured and with a running game that has only recently turned the corner via the play of Devin Singletary. If anything, Stroud has elevated the play of his receiving corps which is the first offence in NFL history to have a trio of receivers with multiple 140-yard receiving games in the same season, courtesy of Nico Collins, Tank Dell (another rookie) and Noah Brown.

Stroud is No. 2 in passing yards and No. 3 in yards per attempt (8.3), impressive and historic for a rookie. Stroud has passed for at least 330 yards in 3 straight games, all wins, and he’s even overcome 6 turnovers in the last 2 games to still win. Houston have the most passing plays of 20 or more yards in the league (49), having averaged 486.3 yards per game in their past three games. The one negative element that has crept into Stroud’s game over the past few weeks has been the turnovers and he’ll need to be careful of that factor against a Jaguars defence that is opportunistic and in what is expected to be a tight game a couple of poor decisions could prove vital.

Stroud will be going against a strength-on-strength matchup here as he has the best QBR (Quarterback Rating) against zone defences, with Jacksonville playing zone at the fifth-highest rate (67%) and allowing the fourth lowest QBR when giving that defensive look.

It’s at home that Stroud has really been at his best and he’s thrown multiple touchdown passes in all 5 of his home starts. In the first game against Jacksonville the Jags were aggressive on defence blitzing Stroud on 36.7% of his dropbacks, their third-highest rate in a game this season. Against the blitz in that game, Stroud was 8-of-11 for 120 yards (11.8 Y/A) and scored both of his touchdowns. We will see how aggressive the Jaguars get here in the rematch, but since that game, Stroud has only been blitzed on 23.9% of his dropbacks, 20th in the league. Given his stellar numbers and the fact that his offence and especially his receiving corps is healthy (apart from Noah Brown) it’s no surprise to see Stroud as 5-1 favourite in the “Most Passing Yards on Sunday” starsports.bet specials market with his price shorter than such luminaries at the position as Mahomes, Allen, Hurts and Herbert.

The fact that the once decimated Texans offensive line is now healthy has played a big part in their running game finding it’s mojo in the past few weeks with Devin Singletary taking on the lead running back role with Dameon Pierce absent. Pierce is due back for this game so it will be interesting to see what role he plays with Singletary looking a far better fit for the outside-zone run scheme that the Texans favour. Even against a stout run defence such as the Jaguars Singletary is expected to have an impact given his form across the last two games. Singletary has handled 55-of-60 backfield touches the past two weeks.

It’s through the air and via their wide receivers and tight end that the Texans offence has made the greatest impact. Houston games are averaging 519.1 combined passing yards per game, the second-most in the league. Both Nico Collins and Tank Dell managed to attract double-digit targets last week in a less pass-funnel matchup against the Cardinals and remain the two likeliest to reach double-digit looks again in Week 12 against the Jaguars.

Dell is another rookie who is having a season to remember and he continued to explode on the scene last week catching 8-of-10 targets for 149 yards and his sixth touchdown catch of the season. Collins still leads the Texans in catches (43) and yards (696), while Jaguars CB Tyson Campbell (hamstring) risks missing this game and that will give Collins a matchup advantage. Both Collins and Dell are candidates for strong games again and their receiving lines at +55.5 (10-11), Collins and +60.5 (10-11), Dell with Star Sports look around 10-15 yards too short. Stroud and Dell have connected for 659 yards this season. This is the most by any rookie quarterback-rookie receiver tandem in the first 10 games of a season in league history.

The Jags have also been vulnerable to the tight end position with the Texans Dalton Schultz a real danger in the red zone. He has a team-high 25.6% target share in the red zone but only a 16.3% target share outside of the red zone, which is third on the team. Jacksonville have allowed 7.7 yards per target to tight ends (24th) but have allowed a 61.5% catch rate (second) and a 3.9% touchdown rate (12th). So, if you are thinking of supporting Schultz in the Star Sports markets then the 2-1 on Schultz to score a TD would probably be the best way to support him.

The Jaguars would like to forget their first game against Houston this season, quarterback Trevor Lawrence was under constant pressure, wide receiver Calvin Ridley dropped three passes, including two in the end zone and kicker Brandon McManus missed one field goal and had another blocked. On top of that the defence allowed completions of 46 and 68 yards to Dell and then allowed a 255-pound fullback to score on an 85-yard kick-off return. All in all, the Jaguars had a game to forget and failed to execute in all three phases of the game.

C.J. Stroud’s opposite number Jags QB Trevor Lawrence will have to match him throw-for-throw in this one and the narrative here is that Lawrence has struggled against the Texans, going 1-4 in his career with seven interceptions to four touchdown passes. The good news for Lawrence and the Jaguars is that he comes into this game off the back of his best performance of the season completing 24-of-32 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns, tacking on 17 yards and two touchdowns with his legs. Lawrence encounters a Texans defence that are allowing 8.0 yards per pass attempt, 30th in the league. Passers have completed 69.1% of their throws against them over that span, 29th in the league so he really shouldn’t have any excuses for building on last week’s performance.

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In Travis Etienne, the Jags have a running back who has one of the most robust roles in the league although of late his snaps and touches have been curbed by the last two game environments. In a game such as this expect Etienne to resume handling a full workload especially with what could well be fresh legs. He will though be facing a stout run defence as the Texans are allowing 3.46 YPC to running backs, second in the league.

Like the Texans it will be through the air that the Jaguars will be more likely to play the game and the way that Houston play the game is likely to push the tempo of the contest and it’s not hard to see this game becoming something of a shootout with plenty of back and forth. To that end the Jags wide receivers Christian Kirk and Calvin Ridley will be looking to get involved. Ridley in particular has been quiet in the past few weeks but he bounced back into the limelight last week catching 7-of-9 targets for 103 yards and two touchdowns. When these teams played earlier in the season, Ridley self-sabotaged himself. He had two drops, one of which was a 35-yard touchdown. The safer option is Kirk especially as he plays the slot role that gave the Texans defence fits last week against the Cardinals as their slot receivers combined for 124 yards and a touchdown.

The tight end position for the Jags has been a conundrum all season long and it’s still a mystery why Jacksonville head coach Doug Pederson never calls Evan Engram’s number in the red zone. Engram ranks third among NFL tight ends in catches (59) and No. 6 in yards (475) but is scoreless with just two of his 72 targets have come in the red zone, and Engram hasn’t been targeted inside the opposing 10-yard line all year. With the Texans missing FS Jimmie Ward (hamstring) and with MLB Denzel Perryman serving one more game on suspension, the matchup looks a good one for Engram in terms of yards and catches if not in the touchdown markets.

In summary, this is a fascinating contest and the game environment suggests that it could turn into one where we see plenty of points and touchdowns, with the over +5.5 TD market at 21-20 with starsports.bet making plenty of appeal. The Jaguars despite their record on the road are going to see a very confident Texans team led by a young QB who is riding the crest of the wave with a very potent offence at his disposal and it should be noted that the Jaguars failed to get any pressure on Stroud when they faced him back in Week 3.

Jacksonville have blown very hot and very cold at times this year whereas the Texans have been more consistent, It’s close but trust the Texans to be ready for this one, and Stroud might just deliver the biggest win for the Houston franchise since the 2019 season.

ANDY RICHMOND

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PROFIT/LOSS (NOV 2023): LOSS -14.91 points

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Author: Eugene Morris