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NFL Week 5 Picks: Will the Texans Get a Boost From Coaching Change?

Jacksonville Jaguars NFL Season Betting Odds and Expert Predictions

The Houston Texans were the champions in the AFC South last season. But things have gone off the rails this year. And there had to be someone to take the fall. That guy turned out to be coach/GM Bill O’Brien. And now they move forward with interim coach Romeo Crennel as they take play host to the Jacksonville Jaguars in a game that is set to go at 1 PM ET on Sunday.

When we make our NFL picks here, we’ll use the football odds at BetAnySports, where Houston is a favorite at home.

Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Betting Odds

+5½ (-110)
54½ (-110)+212
Texans-5½ (-110)54½ (-110)-256
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O’Brien – out the door

Bill O’Brien was a fiery guy who could get under your skin if you let him. That’s fine if he is winning. But when he’s losing, it’s a different story. Part of the problem stemmed from him wanting to take control of personnel decisions. One of those decisions was to trade DeAndre Hopkins, one of the premier receivers in football. Another way to deal away a couple of the first-round draft picks in exchange for left tackle Laremy Tunsil. These moves were unpopular with fans.

And when you then start 0-4 and basically invite scrutiny because you won a power struggle, certain things happen. Surely there was dissatisfaction on the part of some players. And when JJ Watt is one of them, it’s a rough position. Watt expressed disgust at the team’s 31-23 loss to Minnesota last week. And he’s had some disagreements with O’Brien in practice if that means anything.

So he’s gone, and owner Cal McNair has named Romeo Crennel the interim guy. He’ll probably last until the end of the year. And then McNair is going to conduct a search for both a coach and a general manager. This sounds like a team that is more concerned about regrouping and starting over than anything else.

Help for Watson?

DeShaun Watson is a natural playmaker. But when he lost Hopkins, he lost someone that was as dependable as it gets. Not that the Texans don’t have a capable group of wideouts. But they don’t have any stars out there. And they don’t have the kind of ground attack that can impose itself on the opposition.

These are the kind of things that could be very helpful for Watson. He could really use some “cover.” Last season he had problems escaping a pass rush. And this year he has already been sacked 16 times.

Defense isn’t the name of the game anymore

For years Houston had a dependable defense, even one that was feared. But now they spring leaks all over the place. We know it’s early, and we don’t have a big sampling. But Houston is allowing 4.9 yards per rush to the opposition.

Inasmuch as opposing quarterbacks have completed 71% of their passes against them, it is clear that the Texans will have to win some games in “shootout” fashion if they are going to be respectable in the AFC South race.

What about the interim coach?

Romeo Crennel will be the oldest human being ever to coach a game in the NFL. He’s 73 and is one of the more experienced assistants in the league. He has also held the head job with both Cleveland and Kansas City. In fact, he is the last head coach to guide the Browns to a winning record (10-6 in 2007).

In his head coaching career, he is just 28-55. And what must be noted is that he is the coordinator of the Houston defense that has more or less been sieve-like. In fact, all the assistants are being held in place. And is that necessarily a good thing?


There are some teams that get some energy – or urgency – after a coaching change. If the players didn’t like the head coach, they may even be excited.

Will Crennel inspire excitement? We’re not sure. We do know that Houston’s talent is probably better than their 0-4 record. But the Jags have some working parts on offense. That includes RB James Robinson, who has replaced Leonard Fournette pretty nicely.

There might be a lot of points scored. Jacksonville doesn’t have much in the way of defense either. But QB Gardner Minshew will keep on slinging till the end, and we are very wary of laying more than a field goal with this dysfunctional enterprise. So we’re grabbing the points.

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