Houston Texans (2-11, 5-8 ATS) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11, 4-9), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Texans Stats and Trends
The Texans beat the Jaguars 37-21 as 3.5-point home underdogs in a game totaled at 45.5 points in the season opener.
The Texans have won seven straight games outright in this series and they hold a 5-2 ATS mark in that span.
Houston is 1-4 ATS in its last five games and they’re 4-1 toward unders in that span.
Davis Mills has thrown for 300+ yards in his last two full games, which were aided by garbage-time production but they count all the same for fantasy. He completed 33/49 passes for 331 yards (6.8 YPA) and one TD in a 20-point loss to the Seahawks in Week 14. Mills didn’t play in this matchup back in the season opener, but Tyrod Taylor ripped them for 291/2 passing.
Brandin Cooks has a pulse again with Mills taking over at quarterback, posting his second-best fantasy performance (18.1) in his last 10 contests. After posting 8/101/1 receiving on 14 targets in three games since their Week 10 bye, Cooks finished with 8/101 receiving on 11 targets against the Seahawks last week. Cooks managed 5/132 receiving on seven targets when these teams met in Week 1 with Tyrod at quarterback.
Royce Freeman was the last man standing in this backfield in Week 14 with David Johnson (COVID) missing the game and Rex Burkhead leaving in the third quarter with a groin injury. Freeman stepped up with 11/15 rushing and 6/51 receiving on eight targets while playing 55% of the snaps in a loss to the Seahawks. This backfield could be a mess if DJ, Burkhead, and/or Jaylen Samuels (COVID) return this week. Texans’ RBs combined for 37/120/2 rushing when these teams met in the season opener.
Brolley’s Jaguars Stats and Trends
The Urban Meyer era in Jacksonville somehow went worse than anyone could’ve predicted, both on and off the field. Tension in Jacksonville boiled over last weekend with NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero airing out the grievances inside the building, and it spilled over into a pitiful performance in a Week 14 shutout loss to the Titans. It wasn’t a huge surprise that owner Shad Khan did the inevitable and fired Meyer this week after less than a season in Jacksonville.
This week’s spread has moved in favor of the Jaguars since the cancer has been removed from the franchise.
The Jaguars are 11-2 toward unders this season.
Jacksonville hasn’t covered a spread in four games.
The Jaguars have played under the total in four straight home games.
Trevor Lawrence completed 24/40 passes for 221 scoreless yards (5.5 YPA) and four INTs in their dreadful shutout loss to the Titans in Week 14. He’s now finished with fewer than nine FP in four of his last six games. Lawrence posted 332/3 passing with the Jaguars chasing points against the Texans in the season opener, which was his second-best fantasy performance of the season (22.1).
Laquon Treadwell has now led the Jaguars in receiving in three straight games with three consecutive performances with four catches and 50+ receiving yards. He had his best game of the year in Week 14, posting 4/68 receiving on six targets in Jacksonville’s shutout loss to the Titans. Marvin Jones also showed a pulse for the first time since Week 6 with 6/70 receiving after he was prominently featured in Pelisserro’s piece on Meyer. Jones led the group with 18.7 FP in this matchup in the season opener, which turned out to be his second-best fantasy performance of the season.
James Robinson looks broken just like the rest of Jacksonville’s offense in recent weeks, but he could have a new lease on life with Meyer out of the picture. He’s managed just 14/28 rushing (2.0 YPC) and 1/11 receiving in the last two weeks, but at least he saw 64% of the snaps in Week 14 with Carlos Hyde seeing two touches on 22% of the snaps. J-Rob struggled when these teams met in the season opener, totaling just 8/54 scrimmage while Hyde posted 11/58 scrimmage.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 28.7 (20th)
Plays per game: 59.6 (27th)
Pass: 65.5% (7th) | Run: 34.5% (26th)
Pace: 27.3 (11th)
Plays per game: 59.1 (29th)
Pass: 66.0% (6th) | Run: 34.0% (27th)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
The Jaguars finally did what had to be done and canned Urban Meyer after an embarrassing 13 games. As someone who grew up watching this team in my backyard all throughout middle school, high school, and college – I can say without a doubt that the Meyer era was the bottom for this franchise. Urban was a “splash” hire back in January – someone to sell some tickets to all the Florida Gator fans in the area – and it predictably backfired on owner Shad Khan. I just hope Trevor Lawrenece comes through this mess unscathed in 2022 and beyond.
OC Darrell Bevell will take over as interim HC to close out this year and will remain the team’s play-caller. Even though he constantly deflected blame on to his coaching staff, Urban clearly had a big hand in game-planning and it speaks volumes that Bevell felt it necessary to say that James Robinson is “the starter and will be treated as such” in his opening press conference. After a disastrous 6 carry, 4 yard performance last week – I think we’re going to see a huge dose of J-Rob here against this Texans front-seven that has given up a league-high 146.7 YPG on the ground over the last eight weeks.
If the Jaguars show up (and they have plenty of pride-based motivation to do so), this game has sneaky shootout appeal. The Texans started fast last week against the Seahawks, but still managed to score 13 or fewer points for the fifth time in Davis Mills’ seven career starts. While Seattle’s defense isn’t great by any stretch, they’re still a better unit overall than this Jaguars unit that has given up 20 or more points in 12-of-13 games.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Brandin Cooks aligns all over the formation in order to create mismatches with his 4.33-speed and crisp route-running. Listing him across from Rudy Ford is a bit misleading since Cooks splits his time evenly inside and outside each week. But Cooks does work more out of the slot than any other Houston wideout. So it’s fitting that Jaguars have evenly split their FPG distribution. This is a matchup that I am expecting will easily cover its 39.5 implied total. To close my reasoning for targeting Cooks this week, here’s some of the metrics provided by Jacksonville to opposing offenses:
71% completion rate (the highest)
7.34 YPA (fifth-most)
15.2% deep completion rate (11th-highest)
37.4% passing first down rate (fourth-highest)
90.9 FPG to opposing offenses (12th-most)
17.5 FPG to QBs (17th-most)
1.85 RZ touches/game (fifth-most)
36.7 FPG to WRs (ninth-most)
Marvin Jones, who followed OC-now-HC Darrell Bevell, to Duval County after spending the previous two seasons together in Detroit, had a very public spat with the now-disgraced Urban Meyer. A compelling argument can be made that, along with his monster 2013 and 2017 seasons, those two campaigns under Bevell provided us with the finest play of Jones’ career. Now that Bevell will be calling the shots, my expectations in Week 15 for Trevor Lawrence, James Robinson, and, particularly, Jones have increased.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
I’m not going to waste my time talking too much about this awful fantasy game, but it’s worth noting a couple of things. The Texans played Brandin Cooks in the slot on a season-high 36 snaps last week, and this is a glorious matchup for him to exploit.
Heck, Cooks lining up anywhere against Jacksonville has been a good matchup to exploit. Allow Graham, from Stat-Pack, to explain:
Brandin Cooks is averaging 14.4 FPG in Davis Mills’ starts and just 11.7 FPG with Tyrod Taylor.
Cooks gets the Jaguars next – a team he’s shredded for 8/161/1, 3/83/1, and 5/132 in his three meetings.
The Texans have already ruled out Rex Burkhead (hip) from this game, and we’ll see if David Johnson (COVID) can make it back this week. If not, it’ll be the Royce Freeman show. Get excited! Hey, you might need carries this week, and Freeman did at least catch 6 passes last week.
Now that Urban Meyer has been fired and his stink is beginning to wear off this organization, it’s fair to wonder if the Jaguars might actually show some life here. Scott Barrett acknowledges the matchup for RB James Robinson — who has been useless of late but is now free from Urbie — is pristine. From the XFP Report:
“Jacksonville may actually win this game. In fact, they’re projected to win (-3.5), favored for the first time since Week 1. And it’s a near-perfect matchup on paper. The Texans rank 2nd-worst in YPC allowed (4.91) and worst in rushing YPG allowed (128.9). Over the past two weeks, they’ve given up 355 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns to opposing RBs.”
Amazingly, Scott’s data is now out of date. Following the firing of Urbz, the Jags have moved up to -5.5 favorites! Vegas literally thinks Meyer was worth negative two points to his team. I can endorse JRob this week, and so does interim HC Darrell Bevell.
(Backup RB Carlos Hyde is also out with a concussion, so you can guarantee the entire world will be on JRob this week.)
My guess is the coaches will be just as motivated as the players.
Former Jaguars coach Urban Meyer told Jaguars coaching staff, per league source: 'I had a better coaching staff at Bowling Green. You guys are f---ng terrible.'— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) December 16, 2021
Jake Tribbey thinks he might have found a rose that grew from concrete in this terrible Jacksonville offense, and that’s WR Laquon Treadwell, who is a viable desperation play. Here he is from DFS Early Look:
“Over the last three weeks, Treadwell is tied for the team lead in targets per game (6.3), ranks 1st in yards per game (61.0), and ranks 2nd in routes per game (34.0). Among all WRs, those numbers would rank 35th, 45th, and 28th over the full season. The offense may be terrible, and Treadwell himself may not be very good (career 0.96 YPRR), but he’s locked into a full-time role with a consistent target floor (5 targets in each of his last 3 games).
His matchup with Houston is a neutral one in the defensive metrics that matter to me, but it’s worth noting the Jaguars are 3.0-point favorites in this game, which could reduce their overall passing volume, potentially harming Treadwell’s floor.”
It says something about Urban Meyer’s truly abominable tenure here that Treadwell and James O’Shaughnessy were the best fantasy options. I really have nothing left to say and I have 15 more games to get to this week.