While primetime games in the NFL are traditionally reserved for intriguing matchups, "Thursday Night Football" in 2013 has generally not followed that protocol. In Week 14, the nationally televised game might be the worst of the entire season.
The teams with the two worst records are set to face off in the first contest of the week. The Houston Texans (2-10) and their league-worst record will visit the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-10), who remained winless longer than any other club.
Jacksonville was expected to have a poor season, but the Texans have been the biggest surprise in the NFL. They were projected to win the AFC South and compete with the best teams in the conference. Between troubles at quarterback and losing Arian Foster for the season, Houston has lost 10 in a row.
A few weeks ago, the Jaguars beat the Texans in Houston. The Texans may have overlooked their opponent, who some of the players viewed as an easy victory. Following the loss, players like Andre Johnson and Ben Tate expressed their embarrassment after losing to what they appeared to perceive as a lesser team.
"I couldn't care less what (our opponents) think," Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts said. "It's the NFL. You're going to win or lose each week. You've got to bring your best that week.”
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The odds-makers seem to agree that the Texans are still better, considering they are favored on the road. Houston showed some promise when Case Kennum took over for Matt Schaub as the starting quarterback, but he’s regressed in recent weeks.
In his first three games at the helm, Keenum nearly led Houston to wins against the Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals. All of those teams are above .500, and the Texans were defeated by a total of seven points in those three contests, which saw Keenum register passer ratings of 110.6, 123.4 and 87.5. Since then, however, the quarterback hasn’t played well, throwing just one touchdown and three interceptions. His poor play has contributed to defeats against losing teams like the Jaguars and Oakland Raiders.
The improved play of the Jaguars has had very little to do with their starting quarterback. Chad Henne continues to be mediocre, but the team has forced turnovers and taken advantage of the opportunity to score on a short field.
Player To Watch: Case Keenum
Time: 8:25 p.m. Monday
Place: EverBank Field
TV: NFL Network
Online Stream: nfl.com/tnf
Updated Betting Odds: Texans by 3
Prediction: Jaguars over Texans, 31-27