The Houston Texans are always good at one thing: beating the Jacksonville Jaguars. This year’s version of the Jaguars is different. It’s all-time NCAA head coach Urban Meyer heading to the bright lights of the big leagues. It’s generational quarterback prospect Trevor Lawrence. It’s a young defense that is healthy (again). It’s skill players James Robinson and Laviska Shenault Jr. looking to build on their great rookie seasons.
Houston has gone the other direction. The franchise quarterback turned villain. The old roster built based on competition. What could have been two all-time Clemson quarterbacks battling out is now a toilet bowl.
Here are our predictions for this weekend’s upcoming Texans-Jaguars game. Leave yours below too...if you dare.
Mike: Jaguars 42, Texans 17.
If Trevor Lawrence was drafted onto a quality team, his hype level right now would be off the charts. Lawrence is hot off a 3-year college career that saw him pass for over 10,000 yards and 90 touchdowns. The hype on that is the real deal.
Instead, Lawrence is a Glitter Kitty, the NFL equivalent of owning a beach house in College Station, and the national media isn’t overly interested in fanning those flames cause he’s not a member of the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots or one of the other media darling or flavor of the month franchises.
But, when all the dust clears, Trevor Lawrence, one of the best quarterbacks to come into the NFL in years (amidst one of the best influxes of rookie quarterbacks in a long time) is going to feast on a Houston Texans secondary many believe will set a record for most passing yards surrendered in NFL history this season.
Jacksonville Jaguars’ head coach Urban Meyer isn’t one to take his foot off the gas and after an offseason full of frustrations, will look to make his mark in the big leagues this weekend.
And who is going to stop him? Vernon Hargreaves? Lonnie Johnson? Terrance Mitchell?
Meanwhile, Houston Texans rookie head coach David Culley is busy ordering BBQ, channeling meaningless sound bytes and trying to make sure all his players feel loved. Culley’s certainly a nice guy, but you know what they say about where nice guys finish.
Houston simply doesn’t have the talent to compete in the NFL this season in any meaningful way, which long term is a good thing, as they vie to win the Spencer Rattler sweepstakes and the pot o gold at the end of the 2022 NFL draft rainbow.
At the end of the day, Laremy Tunsil, Justin Reid, Brandin Cooks and Phillip Lindsay just won’t be enough to overcome the heralding of the Trevor Lawrence era in Jacksonville.
And, with that begins the first step in the franchise’s longest 18 weeks on record...
l4blitzer: Jaguars 23, Texans 16.
There are two ways to look at this game: Rationally and Irrationally
The rational side would trend towards the Texans. The Texans have more experience, especially on defense, which, if it can continue the pre-season trend, should force a number of turnovers (certainly more than what we saw all of last year). The Jags are not exactly a juggernaut on offense or defense, even as they have a few intriguing pieces for a future franchise improvement. Trevor Lawrence, for all of his college experience, has been mercurial in the preseason and this will be his first NFL start, as it will be the first NFL game for Urban Meyer, who has shown that he is still learning that the NFL is not college. This game is also at home for the Texans, and is probably their most winnable game all year. The Texans typically win against Jacksonville at home, with the last Jags win in Houston back in 2017.
On the other hand, the irrational side is strongly in favor of the team from Jacksonville. My family tends to back Penn State and Tennessee for college football. Urban Meyer went 13-1 against those teams while in college. I do not like Urban Meyer, but he does win. Trevor Lawrence may be a rookie, but the Texans have a bad habit of making rookie QBs look good (Mark Sanchez, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jacoby Brissett, etc). Also, the Jags do have some pieces on offense and defense that could hurt the Texans. The Texans, for all of their preseason success (feel free to talk to the 2008 Detroit Lions and 2016 Cleveland Browns about having more wins in the preseason than regular season) still do not look like a decent team. Arguably the best player on the field for either team will be a healthy scratch. Oh, and throw in that the Texans best offensive weapon not named Watson will be out due to injury (PK Fairbarin). Aside from intellectual curiosity about the Texans and the chance to see Lawrence and Meyer make their NFL debut, you don’t really have a reason to watch this game, unless you are a) a die-hard Jacksonville or Houston fan and 2) the ultimate gambling degenerate. Also, a home team being a 3 point underdog at home to the Jags? Vegas may be on to something.
Ultimately, I will have to go with the irrational winning out here. The 2021 Texans are a case study for the irrational in football. The Texans will win this season, but I am just not so sure they will win this one.
Matt Weston: Jaguars 27, Texans 20.
Even when the Texans are atrocious they still somehow manage to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars. They had the instruction manual on how to take down Doug Marrone’s teams, aside from that time they gave birth to Sacksonville. Tom Savage coming in for [NAME REDACTED], Jake Luton’s futon, picking on terrible linebackers in London, Blake Bortles crushed by Sam Young trying to block J.J. Watt, and stinky stinky minshew minshew all come to mind whenever Houston dominated Jacksonville, proving once again that God hates the Jags.
This is a new era for both teams. New quarterbacks, new head coaches, and new general managers. The difference is Jacksonville is oozing with young talent, has a generational quarterback prospect on their sideline, and say what you will about Urban Myer, the optics have been ridiculous so far, but the man knows how to put together a zany high scoring offense.
David Culley knows how it works, and is the light of this franchise with a smile that can bring life to a barren and empty planet, but he isn’t here to put together a strategy. Get ready for 40 rushing attempts because Tim Kelly learned he needs to run the ball more, not because the Texans are going to be good at it, but because throwing the ball is a terrifying option. Lovie Smith’s defense is going to be picked apart by seam routes and throws to the intermediate middle. Picking off Davis Mills in practice is nowhere close to regular season football.
Houston’s only real hope in this game is Jacksonville typically has a crappy run defense, and their pass protection was crappy last season. This is usually resigned to whenever Myles Jack isn’t on the field. He’ll be there, and the Jags have a fat defense line front in Malcolm Brown, Davon Hamilton, and Roy Robertson-Harris. Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor, gave up 15 sacks and blew 60+ pass blocks last season. The talent is there, moreso for Taylor, they just lack the play to play consistency. Houston’s horde of mediocre edge rushers will have to make big plays to create stops in this one.
I don’t see a path for Houston to score 27, and I don’t think there’s a chance they hold Jacksonville to anything less than that.
bfMFd: Glitter Kitties 24, Texans 7.
Why that score in particular? Because this was the score when Mark Sanchez made his NFL debut in 2009, beating YOUR Houston Texans. This game just kinda has that kind of feel.
That said, the Texans, and I won’t say this often in 2021, actually have a chance to win this one! Urban Meyer is not a good NFL coach, and Trevor Lawrence IS making his NFL debut.
But the Texans suck. Real bad. Even against the weak Glitter Kitties defensive, I don’t see the Texans putting up more than 17 points. On offense, the Glitter Kitties have far more talent than the Texans’ pitiful defense, especially at the skill positions. I can see James Robinson, Marvin Jones, DJ Chark, and especially Laviska Shenault having field days against us.
It’s damn hard to go 0-17 in the NFL, but the Texans are giving it their best go.
Return_on_Ryberg : Texans 20 , Jaguars 17.
I may be viewing the NFL through a traditional lens, but I just don’t see how a college head coach and a rookie quarterback being favored in their first NFL game, on the road no less. You can talk about the talent gap as much as you want, but it still doesn’t overcome the fact that rookie head coaches and quarterbacks can get overwhelmed during their first NFL action. Added on, all these top tier college offenses are so advanced and talented; that on every single pass play the third option is open 99% of the time. It’s not in the NFL and it was not open for Lawrence’s predecessor against Georgia Saturday night, a defense that is made of eventual NFL talent, and we saw what happened to him. I know that wasn’t Lawrence playing but it’s just an example of what can happen to these young quarterbacks when the scheme isn’t working.
Speaking of talent gap, where is it on this Jags roster that it warrants giving them three points on the road? Their wideouts are going to torch the Texans secondary? They don’t have an offensive line to protect their rookie quarterback. I think the quarterback gets hit early on a crossing blitz he doesn’t see from the right side and has happy feet the rest of the game. Happy feet for a young quarterback can easily turn into quicksand, and he may never regain his footing.
On the other-side of the ball, Jacksonville doesn’t have a pass rush to get Tyrod and their secondary has just as many holes as the Texans. Brandin Cooks has been a 1k yard wideout five years in his career and the Texans could be getting a revitalized Anthony Miller out of Chicago, who has shown signs of being a great slot wideout at times but got frustrated with the head coach and QB in Chicagoland. If the Texans get the run game going early with their absolute stable of runningbacks, they could stretch the field and have wide open throwing lanes for their veteran QB. That being said, don’t expect this team to go on long 80-yard drives, they need a short field to have success.
Which brings me to what is ultimately going to be the difference maker in this game, special teams. The preseason is mostly meaningless for offenses and defenses for its rarely starters vs starters, but it is where all special teams’ starters play and I’d didn’t see a better unit than the Texans this offseason. From pinning teams down in their own red zone to gaining quality yardage on punt return, this Texan’s special teams looks all the part like they can win field procession battles all year. Look for David Culley to be extremely conservative early on and to ensure that most of the first quarter is played on Jacksonville’s side of the field.
So I may be leaning on optimism but; let’s give the head coach with over 25 years of NFL experience and the defensive coordinator who took a team to Super Bowl XLI on defense and special teams alone, a little respect and we all smash Texans +3 this weekend (responsibly).
Evan Wilsmore: Prediction: Jaguars 27, Texans 13.
Houston will open their season with a new man under center, a situation that may have been expected, but is still surprising nonetheless. Tyrod Taylor brings a lot of experience to the Texans, but will his on-field performance be enough to silence the doubters? It’s hard to say, but against a refreshed Jaguars squad, a big performance is unlikely.
Nothing is certain about the rest of the team, either. Since the franchise is entering a new era, almost all roles at any position are available for the taking. These players can fight for a starting spot every week, which makes this season one to keep a close eye on (even if the results might not be satisfying).
The Jaguars, as I eluded to before, have gone through a major transformation in just a few months. The team was at the bottom of the NFL in 2020, and although the Texans weren’t great, Jacksonville was even worse. However, repairs to the roster during the offseason have made the team look completely different. They’re a serious candidate to have the biggest “jump” in the NFL this year (from a W-L standpoint), and that could start as early as week 1.
The next chapter in the story of the Houston Texans begins with this game, a game versus a divisional opponent that has gone through a rebuild of their own. However, that rebuild was much quicker and more effective than anything the Texans have done so far, and it’s not something fans want to admit.
Tim: Texans 20, Jaguars 17.
Hey, I’m as shocked by my optimism as you are. The Texans won’t have many games they can win this season, but this one—at home, against a quarterback and a head coach who have never participated in a NFL game that counts in the standings—is one of ‘em. I think the Texans emerge victorious in an ugly affair and give David Culley one of those rare moments he’ll be able to look back and smile about from what’s sure to be a ROUGH season in Houston.