Houston Texans still Week 9 favorites vs. Jaguars with LBs out

Houston Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports /
Houston Texans, Whitney Mercilus
Houston Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports /

The Houston Texans have COVID-19 issues this week and still are the favorites.

The Houston Texans have one win this season, a COVID-19 shutdown this week, and guess what … they are still the favorites in the Week 9 game on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars this upcoming Sunday.

Granted, the Texans have had a horrible season to date with six tough losses against very strong and playoff-bound opponents, but what does that say about the Jaguars? How bad are they when the Texans are favored with players missing this week’s game due to COVID-19?

According to listings on The Action Network ,the Texans are anywhere from a -6.5 to 7 point favorite this weekend in Jacksonville, plus the lone win thus far this season for the Texans came in Week 5 against the Jaguars at NRG Stadium.

The Houston Texans do have an issue at linebacker, as not only will Martin miss the Week 9 game due to his positive COVID-19 test, but due to being in contact with him, fellow linebackers Whitney Mercilus and Dylan Cole have to stay away from the team and are also not able to play this Sunday in Jacksonville.

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Rookie Jonathan Greenard is most likely taking over for Mercilus at outside linebacker in the starting role for Week 9, while Cole was the top reserve for Zach Cunningham. Also at inside linebacker and on the IR is Benardick McKinney, who if healthy would be a starter, and reserve outside linebacker Duke Ejiofor is also on the IR.

Watch the Jaguars challenge the Houston linebackers this weekend, meaning the play of the front three will be of most importance this Sunday to help take some pressure off that group of players.

Houston Texans: Will be facing a rookie starting quarterback

One positive for the Texans on Sunday is their defense will be facing a rookie quarterback making his first start, and that player is Jake Luton, a rookie sixth-round pick from Oregon State.

Luton being the starting quarterback has to have a lot to do with the Texans being a -7 point favorite over Jacksonville this Sunday. Luton is a 6’6” quarterback and 224 pounds who was selected 189th overall, so it will be interesting to see if he can outplay the production that Gardner Minshew had in his career thus far, as Minshew is out with a thumb injury.

This will be a bit different challenge for the Houston Texans defense as they’ve already faced some of the very best quarterbacks in the league this season in losses against Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers. Plus, the Texans have also faced Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill and Minshew.

In facing a player like Luton, on one hand it is tough because he’s never made a professional start, but he’s a rookie going against a player who could strike fear in him in  J.J. Watt, which would benefit the Texans largely on Sunday.

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Overall, the smart money is on the Texans, even with all of the issues at linebacker. Houston has an excellent history against the Jaguars, and it wouldn’t be shocking if that type of success continues in Week 9.