The Jaguars really haven't lived up to the preseason hype, and as such are at bottom of the AFC South. Nonetheless, they'll provide good opposition for the Texans as we look to continue our journey towards another AFC South crown. Here's what to watch this week:
1. The Jaguars’ Defense
It may surprise you to hear that the Jaguars’ defense give up fewer yards per game than the Texans’ defense. Well, only just. 316.4 yards for the Jags compared to the Texans’ 318.5, good for 5th and 6th in the league, respectively.
However, the area that lets Jacksonville down is their run defense, which gives up 113.2 yards per game (23rd in the league,) allowing teams to extend drives and take time off the clock.
This deficit has been improved recently, but Jacksonville has been up against some of the worst rushing attacks in the league in the Vikings, Lions and Broncos.
The Texans will likely struggle against a passing defense that has been in good form this year. The question is whether we take advantage of them being poor against the run. Last time these teams played, we did (181 yards rushing) and it dragged us to victory. Let's hope for more of the same.
2. Lack Of Receivers
C.J. Fiedorowicz has not been just our best tight end. He's been our best receiver. Yes, I am aware we have DeAndre Hopkins out there, but I think C.J. has been better and an easy target for Brock Osweiler.
With Fiedorowicz on the injury report and possibly unlikely to play due to a concussion, there are concerns about how Houston’s passing offense is going to perform.
We're already thin at receiver with the loss of both Braxton Miller and Jaelen Strong to Injured Reserve. Without Fiedorowicz, the Texans really are down to the bare bones receiving wise—just two tight ends and four wide receivers. Even then, calling Wendall Williams a receiver is optimistic.
I expect to see a lot of two back sets and possible usage of Jonathan Grimes split out wide to make up for the lack of receivers. We might even see Lamar Miller as part of the passing attack.
Keep an eye on this. It's going to be a personnel struggle.
3. Blake's Pick-Six Streak
Blake Bortles just loves turning the ball over, especially against the Texans.
He has thrown picks in four of his five games against the Texans, including a streak of pick-sixes in the last three. Kareem Jackson was the beneficiary on two of those occasions.
In his five games against the Texans, Bortles has:
- Thrown seven interceptions .
- Lost two fumbles (four others recovered by the Jaguars).
- Completed just 54.7% of passes.
- Has an average quarterback rating of 66.7.
- Been sacked an astonishing 22 times.
- Led offenses to an average of 15.4 points.
- Lost all five times.
Anyway, enough of how much the Texans’ defense has abused Blake Bortles and the Jaguars’ offense in the past couple years. The bottom line is that we have done very well at forcing mistakes and turnovers. We had 13 QB hits against the Colts on Sunday. More of that pressure against Bortles would certainly help us continue the streak of success against Jacksonville.
Can the Texans exact more punishment on Bortles, or will this finally be the time for him to end the streak? I know I'm fairly confident in more sacks and more turnovers. It's going to be fun to watch. Clowney comin', Blake.
4. Robert Nelson Bounces Back?
After starting out well, Robert Nelson had a bit of a rough day against the Colts, giving up two pass interference calls and a touchdown to T.Y. Hilton. He did make some nice plays in coverage and was a solid tackler, but he also made some rookie errors, which is to be expected. With Nelson likely back in the line of fire again this week, he needs to block those bad plays out and rise to the occasion.
By no means are the Jaguars a prolific passing offense, but they have talent at the wide receiver position in Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee. Nelson will need to be confident and focused to help keep these guys in check.
I'll be looking at Nelson to see how he bounces back. A good performance here would show some mental toughness and continue a promising season.
What will you be looking at against the Jags? Comment below.