Jaguars Open As Week 1 Favorites In 2021 Kickoff Versus Divisional Rival Texans

The Jacksonville Jaguars have opened as a Week 1 favorite over divisional rival, the Houston Texans, despite the game being on the road. It's the first time the Jags have been favored since Week 3 of the 2020 season.

The Jacksonville Jaguars' 2021 schedule is beginning to take shape, with all Week 1 matchups having been announced as of Wednesday morning. The Jags season will kick off with divisional rival Houston Texans on the road. 

According to Covers, DraftKings has labeled the Jaguars a one and a half point favorite (-1.5) over the Texans. The Week 1 duel will be on Sept. 12 at 1 p.m. ET. 

This will be the first time the Jaguars have been a favorite in a game since Week 3 versus the Miami Dolphins last season, when the Jaguars were a 2.5-point favorite. The Jaguars lost that game 31-13, the second in what would become a 15-game losing streak, leading to the Jags claiming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

With that first overall pick, the Jaguars selected Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence, considered one of the surest prospects in generations. As such, Jacksonville begins the season—as of now—in a much more stable position at the most important position in the sport, than the Texans. The Texans are in a holding pattern, as they await more information on an ongoing legal situation involving quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Watson is facing 22 civil lawsuits, all stemming from inappropriate conduct during massage sessions. The embattled quarterback had been angling for a trade from the Texans before news began to break of the lawsuits.  

If Watson does play, it will be a matchup of former Clemson Tiger National Championship quarterbacks. Watson led Clemson to a win over the Alabama Crimson Tide for the 2016 season. Lawrence, who followed Watson at Clemson after a brief interlude with Kelly Bryant, defeated the Tide as a freshman following the 2018 season.

Tigers coach Dabo Swinney once told local Clemson media of the two quarterbacks, “They're more similar than they are different. They're similar in every regard with the exception of Trevor being 6'6. Deshaun is not that. He’s probably 6'3, maybe not quite 6'3. They can both make every throw. Trevor might have a bigger arm, but you're splitting hairs. They're both creative.

“They're both grinders and love to prepare. I didn't know if I would ever coach another guy like Deshaun who loved to prepare and was so focused. And Trevor is the exact same.”

Lawrence is presumed to be the starter for the Jaguars Week 1, with the rest of the quarterback unit consisting of third-year passer Gardener Minshew—who flashed as a rookie in 2019 before stumbling in his second season—and second-year QB Jake Luton, who started three games as a rookie, finishing with a 54.5 completion percentage, and two touchdowns to six interceptions.

Urban Meyer will also be making his debut in Week 1 as a first-time NFL coach. The former college National Championship coach told local media after being hired that he knows the biggest transition to the league will be accepting a loss, something he couldn’t do in the BCS and four-team playoff driving college game.

“You’re in a league that is designed to be .500. You’re talking about Coach [Bill] Belichick, one of my great friends, a person I’ve always admired. He’s the best of all time and you’re talking about a .686 winning percentage,” Meyer said in January.

“You’re talking about the league is built to be .500 and that’s—I’ve coached at Utah where we were picked to lose most of our games, I’ve coached at Bowling Green where we were picked to lose most of our games, and then Florida and Ohio State, you’re picked to win most of the games. So that’s the biggest challenge, is looking across the field and saying they’ve got what you’ve got, or sometimes they’ve got more than you’ve got.”

For oddsmakers though, the Jaguars currently “got more” than the Texans, even with the game on Houston’s turf.

The entire 2021 schedule will be released Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN and NFL Network.