|Monday Night Football Week 13: Texans 3-Point Favorites Over Jaguars|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Wednesday, 26 November 2008 13:00|
Monday Night Matchup
Houston, TX - Based on their finishes last season, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans could easily have expected to be battling for playoff position when their upcoming Monday night matchup was announced.
Instead, their high-profile national television showdown is a meeting between disappointing teams on the verge of elimination from postseason consideration.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Texans -3 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 52% of bets for this game have been placed on Texans -3 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
The Jaguars and Texans square off in Houston on Monday night in an anticlimactic matchup between teams tied for last place in the AFC South.
Jacksonville won 11 games last season and defeated Pittsburgh in a wild-card game before bowing out of the playoffs with a loss to New England in the divisional game. It was the team's deepest playoff run since advancing to the AFC championship game in 1999.
Houston made its own strides in 2007, finishing 8-8 for the first non-losing record in the franchise's six seasons. The young Texans appeared to be turning the corner and earned the first Monday night appearance in franchise history, but Houston (4-7) has regressed this season.
The Jaguars (4-7) have experienced an even steeper decline. They came into the season with Super Bowl aspirations, but are in serious danger of missing the playoffs with their first losing record since 2003.
Jacksonville lost for the fourth time in five games last Sunday, turning the ball over five times, allowing four sacks, missing two field goals, dropping a touchdown pass and getting flagged eight times in a 30-12 loss to Minnesota, its fourth straight defeat at home.
"It was an embarrassing performance," coach Jack Del Rio said. "Might have been as bad as I've felt postgame."
Jacksonville never recovered from two turnovers in the first two minutes, prompting Del Rio to suggest major changes could be in the team's future.
"What I recognize is there's not going to be any quick fix," the coach said. "What I recognize is that it is going to take a commitment, it's going to take resolve. I have the resolve and a firm commitment to make sure we're getting this thing turned in the right direction as we close out this year and look to build for next year."
As disappointed as he is with his team's performance this season, Del Rio defended himself and his players, saying anyone who believes he has lost the team is mistaken and anyone who feels the Jaguars have given up is wrong.
"That's never going to be an issue here," he said. "I just don't see that in our guys. I don't think you can look at it and see that. I'll watch the film with you. I don't see that."
The Jaguars hope to back up their coach's strong talk as they meet the Texans, who snapped a three-game losing streak with a 16-6 road win over Cleveland last Sunday.
Houston quarterback Sage Rosenfels, a career backup, had his best game since replacing injured Matt Schaub three weeks ago. Though his problems controlling the ball continued with two second-half interceptions, he completed 24 of 32 passes for 275 yards and a 17-yard TD pass to Kevin Walter in the first quarter. He connected with Andre Johnson 10 times for 116 yards.
"It's a great feeling," said Rosenfels, who has three touchdowns and eight picks in his four starts. "It's a huge, huge win for us. Cleveland's a tough place to play. For us to come in here and play like this shows a lot about our players and our coaches."
Rosenfels has been getting plenty of help from rookie running back Steve Slaton, a third-round draft pick out of West Virginia. The 5-foot-9, 201-pounder ran for 73 yards last week after compiling 156 in his previous game, the second-highest total in franchise history.
After the Texans put Ahman Green on injured reserve this week, Slaton will likely see even more of the workload over Houston's remaining five games.
Slaton had just 33 yards on 10 carries in his first meeting with Jacksonville, but also caught eight passes for 83 yards and a touchdown in the thrilling overtime game Sept. 28. Houston's Kris Brown kicked a 47-yard field goal with one second left to force overtime, where Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee sealed the 30-27 victory with a 37-yarder.
The Jaguars have lost four of five games in Houston after winning their first game there against the expansion Texans in 2002.
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Posted: 11/27/08 12:39PM ET