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NFL Week 17 betting forecast: Texans will tame Jaguars again

A year after Jacksonville finished with the AFC’s worst record at 3-14, the Jaguars are in playoff contention under NFL Coach of the Year candidate Doug Pederson and Trevor Lawrence, who’s starting to look like a franchise quarterback.

But Sunday’s game at Houston is virtually meaningless to Jacksonville (7-8), which must beat Tennessee in Week 18 to win the AFC South division title.

The Texans have the NFL’s worst record this season at 2-12-1. But they’re on a 3-0 cover streak after nearly knocking off the Cowboys as 17-point underdogs in a 27-23 loss in Week 14; almost upsetting the Chiefs as 14-point underdogs in a 30-24 overtime loss in Week 15; and beating the Titans 19-14 last week to snap a nine-game losing streak.

Houston’s other victory was a 13-6 win over the Jaguars in Week 5. The Texans have dominated the series with Jacksonville, winning the last nine meetings and 15 of 17.

The line has dropped from the Jaguars -4½ to -3. But we’ll still grab the points and back Houston as a live home underdog against a Jacksonville team looking ahead to the regular-season finale.

Four more plays (home team in CAPS):

BUCCANEERS (-3½) over Panthers: As bad as Tampa Bay (7-8) has played this season, a win over Carolina (6-9) is all it needs to clinch its second straight NFC South title and third consecutive playoff berth. The Bucs lost 21-3 to the Panthers earlier this season after winning the previous four meetings and six of the prior seven. But I’ll take the old GOAT and Tampa Bay’s No. 7 scoring defense (20.3 ppg) — which might get back defensive tackle Vita Vea — to find a way to win and cover against Sam Darnold and Co.

COMMANDERS (-2) over Browns: Cleveland has been eliminated from playoff contention, but Washington can clinch a postseason spot with wins in its final two games. The Commanders had won and covered six of seven before a tie and loss to the Giants, and last week’s defeat at streaking San Francisco. Washington, which ranks 11th in scoring defense (20.9 ppg), will give Carson Wentz his first start since Week 6 and needs only to win by a field goal to cover and keep its playoff hopes alive.

EAGLES (-5) over Saints: Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts is doubtful to play. But Gardner Minshew is a capable backup who threw for 355 yards and accounted for three touchdowns in last week’s 40-34 loss at Dallas in which the Eagles had four turnovers. A win against New Orleans at home clinches the NFC East title, a first-round bye and home-field advantage through the playoffs. I’ll take Philadelphia to bounce back at the discounted price with Minshew.

BENGALS (+1) over Bills: Cincinnati has the hotter hand in this week’s marquee matchup between two of the top AFC title contenders on “Monday Night Football.” While both teams are gunning for the No. 1 playoff seed, the Bengals are at home and playing better than Buffalo. Cincinnati has won and covered seven straight games and is riding an incredible 20-3 ATS run. The Bills are on a 3-6 spread slide.

Last week: 3-2

Season: 42-35-3

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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