Your beloved Houston Texans travel to Jacksonville this week for an AFC South showdown against the Jaguars. Houston is returning from their bye week hoping to get their offense on track, while Jacksonville looks to put an end to a three game losing streak. Both teams have struggled this season, but the Texans sit atop the division at 5-3 while the Jaguars are looking up from the bottom at 2-6. This week, these are the match-ups to keep an eye on as Houston looks to come away with a win on the road.
Allen & Allen vs. Houston’s Secondary
The Texans’ secondary has been exceptional this year, largely thanks to the emergence of Kevin Johnson (now on IR) and A.J. Bouye. This week, the Texans shift their focus to receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, and quarterback Blake Bortles. Jacksonville’s wideout tandem was dangerous last season, but have struggled this year in the wake of Bortles’ issues.
Despite injuries to key players, Houston’s secondary remains daunting. Their defensive backs boast the second best pass defense in the league. They should be able to contain Hurns and Robinson and capitalize on the Jaguars’ offensive mistakes. A few big plays from the defense this weekend could take pressure off of the offense and give the Texans some breathing room.
Jacksonville’s Running Backs vs. Houston’s Run Defense
The Jaguars have one of the worst run games in the NFL and the Texans have one of the worst run defenses in the game, so this could be ugly to watch. Jacksonville running backs T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory have combined for 489 yards and two touchdowns this season. Even Houston’s run defense, which is ranked 28th and has struggled most of the season, should have a chance at limiting Jacksonville’s run game.
Blake Bortles vs. Houston’s Defensive Line
The Jaguars’ quarterback will struggle to get the best of Houston’s secondary this week and will also have issues with the Texans’ defensive line. Bortles has had issues with turnovers this season. Houston’s defensive front, led by Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus, and Benardrick McKinney will focus on keeping him under pressure.
Bortles has been mistake prone this year, so Houston’s defensive line will look to force him into a few dangerous situations. If they can capitalize on his errors and make a few big plays, they will go a long way in helping Houston’s struggling offense.
Brock Osweiler vs. Himself
As we pass the halfway point in the season, Osweiler’s problems at quarterback loom large for Houston. He has failed to get on the same page with his wide receivers, managing to make one of the best wideouts in the league (DeAndre Hopkins) look mediocre at times. Osweiler has yet to have a game without a turnover and has failed to get the offense going the way the Texans hoped he would.
This week, Osweiler will face off with the fifth-ranked pass defense in the NFL. If Houston wants to come away with the win, Osweiler needs to have better ball protection. Osweiler has to get Hopkins involved, especially with Jaelen Strong out and Will Fuller dealing with a hamstring injury of his own. Osweiler is fresh off a bye and has the opportunity to turn things around this weekend, perhaps making it through his first game without turning the ball over.
Lamar Miller vs. Jacksonville’s Defensive Line
Miller has been one of the best offseason acquisitions made by the Texans this year. He is a talented back fighting for yardage behind a makeshift offensive line that has been decimated by injuries. In the wake of so many offensive struggles, Miller has been a bright spot. Miller has racked up 637 yards and two rushing touchdowns so far this season, along with a receiving touchdown. This week, he has a great match-up with the Jaguars’ 24th-ranked run defense. If Miller can break loose against Jacksonville, he will alleviate a lot of the pressure for Osweiler and allow the Houston offense to get going.
Houston’s defense will need to continue playing at an elite level and Osweiler still needs to get the offense on the same page. But Houston should have the upper hand in most of the match-ups this weekend and should come away with a victory in Jacksonville.
What do you think, Texans fans? What other match-ups do you think will be important this weekend? You can use the comments section to discuss Houston, Jacksonville and anything else game-related as we wait for Sunday’s game.