Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:30 AM EST.
1:00 PM EST. The Texans can clinch the AFC South with a win or a tie between the Colts and Titans. They can secure a first-round bye with a win and a Patriots loss, or a win combined with losses by the Chiefs and Chargers and a tie in the strength of victory tiebreaker over the Chiefs. They also have an outside chance at AFC home-field advantage. They would need a win and losses by the Patriots, Chiefs and Chargers. In other words, the Texans are in the postseason, but their seeding is still very much up in the air.
At 5-10 with just a game to play it appears the window the that was kicked open last year by the Jags was slammed shut. Blake Bortles had been replaced as the team's starting quarterback, but head coach Doug Marrone is going back to the well one more time after Bortles rallied the team to victory last week in Miami’s “must win” game. Bortles had been benched for Cody Kessler the last four games, but the former hadn't been any worse this season than last when the Jags just had one of the best defenses in the league and a run game that allowed Bortles to be a "game manager." BB's completion percentage (60.4 to 60.2), yards per attempt (7.0 both years), touchdown rate conversion (3.5 to 4.0) and even his interception rate (2.7 to 2.5) are comparable to last season. After last week’s victory, Bortles said, "Everything you need to be a successful team and win a Super Bowl in this league is in this locker room." Sitting and watching for a few weeks may have done Bortles a world of good and we’re happy to test that hypothesis out here while taking back some points.
On paper, it might look like an easy call to back Houston, as it has something to play for while the Jags appear to be playing out the string, but based on this line, the oddsmakers are suggesting the Texans are going to be in a fight. Just look at some of these other lines between division rivals this weekend. The Patriots, Chiefs, Steelers, Seahawks and Rams are all guaranteed a spot in the playoffs and are double-digit chalk against the basement dwellers of their respective divisions, yet here is Houston spotting a very appealing 6½-points to a Jags team that has no more market standing than the Jets, Raiders, Bengals, Cardinals or 49ers respectively. The line strongly suggests that the oddsmakers trust that the Jags will show up motivated and that's good enough for us. Finally, the Jags know they can't knock the Texans out of the playoffs but they also know they can prevent them from winning the division and also make their road to the Super Bowl much more difficult.
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Jacksonville +7 -104 (Risking 2.08 units - To Win: 2.00)