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Value of Things: Roses and Thorns— Jacksonville Jaguars

What will the Jaguars do against the Texans?

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Divisional games take on a whole new significance and strategy makes it that much more difficult. You are facing a team for the second time. You know them and they know you. However, in Week 12 we get to see a lot more of a team’s strengths and weaknesses play out. We have ten weeks worth of games to go on.

The same is true for scouting services like PFF. They have more data to go on. So, the players that finish in the top five on a particular team have done it week in and week out. Players with scores over 80 are typically Pro Bowl type players. Players with scores over 70 are solid starters. When viewing the top five players of a team, we usually don’t see many guys below 70 and when we do that is probably a sign the team isn’t very good. Both these teams would be in the playoffs if the season ended today, so that won’t be the case.

Jacksonville Jaguars Top Five Players

DE Josh Allen— 87.6
LB Foyesade Oluokun— 86.0
QB Trevor Lawrence— 84.0
CB Darious Williams— 81.6
LB Devin Lloyd— 77.6

Could you imagine this team with Aidan Hutchinson instead of Travon Walker? it is scary when you think about it, but the Jaguars are a product of high draft picks and free agent dollars. When you hit on Trevor Lawrence, Josh Allen, and Devin Lloyd it makes it a lot easier to win football games. The key to understanding this section is not in looking at the scores themselves, but what positions they play. The Jaguars defense is clearly the strength of their team and that includes their front seven. Add in Walker opposite Allen and this is a talented group of guys that all excel at stopping the run.

Houston Texans Top Five

WR Noah Brown— 87.7
LB Blake Cashman— 87.3
WR Nico Collins— 84.6
QB C.J. Stroud— 83.7
WR Tank Dell— 82.0

Again, it is where the strength lies that is important here. The Houston Texans have a high octane passing attack and only one player, Stroud, was picked before the third round. The same is true of Cashman on defense. Will Anderson, Tavierre Thomas, and Steven Nelson fall right under these guys, but outside of Anderson and Stroud, this team is being led by middle class young players and second tier free agents.

What will the Jaguars offense do to the Texans?

You don’t see this very often, but the Jaguars are 17th in total yards, 17th in passing yards, and 17th in rushing yards. They are 14th in points scored which means they slightly overproduce given their total productivity. They rely on a good defense to give them good field position. Outside of Lawrence, none of their skill position guys are Pro Bowl type players, but they can beat you on numerous levels and in numerous ways. Travis Etienne can run and catch balls out of the backfield. You have Calvin Ridley and receiver and Evan Engram at tight end. Christian Kirk is a decent secondary target. I imagine this one will start slow until they figure out what’s working and then exploit it.

What will the Jaguars defense do to the Texans?

Ironically, the Jaguars are also 17th in yards allowed on the season. However, they are third in rushing yards allowed. The easy yards the Texans got against the Bengals and Cardinals aren’t likely to be there on Sunday. At least the easy yards they got on the ground won’t be there. The Jaguars are 27th in passing yards surrendered, Yet, those yards have come with 16 TDs and 11 interceptions. That’s not the best ratio in the league, but it is up there. The hope to force the Texans into obvious passing situations and pressure C.J. Stroud into making key mistakes. After Sunday, we know that’s a distinct possibility.

What will the Texans offense do to the Jaguars?

I say this because I am hoping I am wishing it into existence. This is a passing football team. They are at their best when Stroud has the ball in his hands. They are second in passing yards in the NFL. Three of their receivers have 80+ PFF grades. Dalton Schultz isn’t quite THAT good, but he has been a good receiving target. The Jaguars give up among the most passing yards in the league. Everything points to relying on your passing game. Yes, you have to run the football some. However, you can establish the pass first and then sprinkle in the running game based on that. The days of handing it off on first and second down need to be over.

What will the Texans defense do to the Jaguars?

The Texans are 16th in total defense. They are seventh in rushing yards allowed. A year ago, I didn’t think I would be able to shape my mouth to say such a thing. These aren’t the Baltimore Ravens from 2000 or the 1985 Chicago Bears, but this is a vastly improved run defense. The Texans want to do what the Jaguars want to do. They want to make the Jaguars one -dimensional. The line is the weakness of the Jaguars, so putting them in obvious passing situations could create pressure and lead to sacks and turnovers. The Texans aren’t Chargers-level bad on pass defense, but they are 23rd in the NFL. The key will be getting more turnovers to offset the yardage the Jaguars are likely to get.