TNF Primer: How to bet HOU-JAC

Line analysis and ATS picks from Vegas experts on the Thursday night game

Updated: December 5, 2013, 11:20 AM ET
By Jeff Gold | ESPN Insider

VegasSaul Loeb/AFP/Getty ImagesESPN Insider's group of betting experts help analyze the Houston-Jacksonville game.

There's no mystery to why people will be tuning in to watch Thursday night's classic between the Texans and Jaguars. With no playoff implications and limited fantasy football significance, the biggest intrigue is from a handicapping point of view (and potential No. 1 draft pick implications in May). Sometimes the greatest value can be found in the worst games.

The Jaguars, surprisingly, have won three of their past four, the second win coming when these two teams played two weeks ago. Midway through the season, Jacksonville seemed like a solid bet to have the worst record in the NFL. The Jaguars seemed vulnerable to an 0-16 season, and gamblers pondered questions such as, "What would the line be if the University of Alabama played Jacksonville?"

It helps to play Chad Henne instead of Blaine Gabbert, and the impact of a new coach's new scheme sometimes takes some time to begin to show tangible results. Gus Bradley seems like he was a good choice to lead this struggling franchise.

As for the Texans, it's hard to believe how a Super Bowl contender is in position to have the top overall pick. Everything has gone wrong, from Gary Kubiak suffering a mini-stroke during a game, to Matt Schaub losing his job to stars Arian Foster and Brian Cushing suffering season-ending injuries.

When these teams met two weeks ago, the loss prompted Ben Tate to say he was "embarrassed" and for Andre Johnson to say, "We suck as an offense. That's pretty much it."

But despite nine straight losses, the Texans are still a field goal favorite Thursday night on the road. Preseason expectations still have some meaning, evidently. The public, however, is fairly split as only 54 percent of the bets are on the Texans.

Let's turn to our panel of Vegas experts for an ATS pick on Thursday night's matchup.


Matchup: Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars

Spread: Opened Texans minus-2.5; now Texans minus-3
Total: Opened 43.5; now 43.5


ATS picks