In this division matchup, the Houston Texans look to add to their win total and cement there slot in the playoff race. They are coming off a thriller in Indianapolis where they managed to beat the Colts and continue to dominate the division. While the Jacksonville Jaguars playoffs hopes were dashed long ago, they still have the chance to play spoiler to their division rival and build on next season.
Scouting the Texans:
Offense, passing the football won’t hurt you, I promise
Coming off a performance where he completed over 60% of his passes and 2 touchdowns vs. Green Bay, Osweiler struggled vs. an injured but talented Colts defense. Osweiler’s regression does not bode well for the Texans offense and it’s important that he gets back on track vs. a Jacksonville defense that gives up over 200 yards a game (4th in the NFL). In order to help Osweiler bounce back, Houston needs to focus on trying to get the ball to Deandre Hopkins. Hopkins is also coming off a poor performance where he was only able to catch 2 passes. Rookie wide receiver Will Fuller and tight ends Ryan Griffin and C.J Fiedorowicz are also valuable commodities in the passing game. Look for these three to find an opening if Hopkins can’t find a way to get open.
One thing that wasn’t a problem last week was the rushing attack; which had over 150 yards last week vs. the Colts. Running back Lamar Miller was the primary runner and finished the day with over 100 yards and a touchdown. While he has proven this entire season that he can carry the ball no matter what it has come at a cost. Miller has been banged up the past 3 weeks; and there is a chance that the Texans may choose to rest him or lighten his workload this week vs. a weak Jacksonville defense. If that is the case look for Alfred Blue to start in his place. At 225 pounds, Blue can provide power in the running game to wear down any defense. Also be sure to keep an eye on Johnathan Grimes and kick returner Akeem Hunt. Both running backs have proven this season that they can carry the football and can catch a defense off guard.
Defense, don’t worry about Slow and Steady, just win the Race!
For the past 2 weeks the Houston Texans Defense has proven to hold strong until the 4th quarter; but that’s where things appear to fall apart. In the past 2 games the Texans defense has given up 400 yards of offense and 3 touchdowns in the 4th quarter alone. This week, it’s going to be important for the defense to finish the entire game in order to secure another victory in the division. One of the primary goals for this defense should be giving Jadaveon Clowney as many chances as possible to hit the opposing quarterback. Last week he knocked down quarterback Andrew Luck several times and caused a forced fumble on a sack in the redzone. Also look for linebackers Benardrick Mckinney Brian Cushing, and Whitney Mercileus to provide a pass rush.
The Houston secondary is coming off a season 2 interceptions vs. the Colts; it was a game where they were also able to find a way to cover T.Y Hilton until the 4th quarter. Double covering T.Y Hilton allowed Colts quarterback Andrew Luck to find other players open down field; fortunately for the Texans the Jaguars do not possess such a threat and Houston can focus on man to man coverage, which is something they excel at. Look corners Kareem Jackson and A.J Byoue to have a great day, and safety Quentin Demps to provide support in the running and passing game. The X factor in this unit is Robert Nelson. He has a poor outing last week, and it will be up to defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel to decide whether or not he plays or uses someone else
Scouting the Jaguars
Offensively, not a lot of Bright Spots in the Sunshine State
In what began as a year of promise and hopes for a playoff run, the Jacksonville Jaguars sit at 2-11 and at the bottom of the division. A lot of the offensive woes come from quarterback Blake Bortles. The former 1st round pick had regressed from last season by not providing the dynamic aerial assault that Jaguars fans are used to seeing. Despite his team being out of the playoff race, he still has shown commitment to the team and strong work ethic try and make the offense work. His top targets this season are Marquise Lee and Allen Robinson who have still managed to have over 100 receptions and 8 touchdowns between them. Former Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas has provided 30 receptions and 4 touchdowns this season.
The running game has also proven to be a hassle to get going, as University of Alabama Alum T.J Yeldon and former New York Jet Chris Ivory have not been able to provide a punch for the offense. Between them the duo has just over 750 yards and 3 touchdowns. While traditional running has been an issue for Jacksonville, the Jaguars have been able to abuse Bortles’ athleticism. The quarterback has over 300 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns.
Money Ball has not paid off for the Jaguars
This season, the Jacksonville Jaguars have 6 1st round draft picks on an 11 man defensive, and have invested over 200 million dollars in free agency; unfortunately, that has somehow not translated into wins. The Jacksonville Jaguars this season made a splash in free agency by signing Denver Broncos defensive lineman Malik Jackson to a 6 year 90 million dollar contract. Paired with former 1st round picks Tyson Alualu and Dante Folwer, the trio have totaled for just 8.5 sacks this season. On the back end it has been the performance has also been subpar. While 1st round picks Jalen Ramsey and Johnathan Cyprien have shown flashes of skill, they have also been lost in coverage at times and have only been able to produce one turnover between them. Free agent defensive backs Prince Amukarma and Tashaun Gipson have also had successful outing this season but they have not been worth the price tag that the Jaguars have paid for them.
The bright spot on this unit is their linebacker corp. Veteran Paul Posluszny and rising star Telvin Smith have combined for over 200 tackles this season, 2.5 sacks, and an interception. Rookie Linebacker Myles Jack, heir apparent to Posluszny position, has also provided a spark on the field when given the chance.
Houston, don’t Focus on Jacksonville’s Record!
While a team that is 2-11 is not what the Texans have been accustomed to facing the past month, Houston cannot afford to fall asleep at the wheel. In week 10 vs. the Jaguars, the game came down to a field goal kick by Nick Novak to win the game. On paper, Houston should when this game decisively as long as they make sure to play smart and stay focused the entire day.