While the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans are both essentially out of the playoff picture, each team got to their current situation via wildly different paths. The Jacksonville Jaguars went into this season with the mindset of a monumental rebuild and not a legitimate contender. David Caldwell let several starters walk in free agency or released them outright while only signing a few cheap replacements. He made smart picks in the draft and didn’t reach for a quarterback. The Jaguars are building towards something and this season is just the first step. The Houston Texans on the other hand had the opposite mindset – this was their year and they wanted to win a Super Bowl. First round pick DeAndre Hopkins was supposed to be the missing piece on offense that Matt Schaub needed and a dominant defense was supposed to lead the way. Instead they have fallen victim to terrible quarterback play and injuries and they find themselves with the second worst record in the league.
Here are some off-the-cuff predictions for this Sunday’s game:
J.J. Watt will have at least one sack: FACT
Despite the team’s struggles, J.J. Watt has again been arguably the best defensive player in the league. His overall Pro Football Focus grade of (+71.8) is a staggering 44.4 points better than the next best 3-4 defensive end. His 9 sacks so far put him behind his pace last year when he got 23 sacks, but he’s still a force on the defensive line. The Jacksonville offensive line has improved marginally over the last few weeks but Watt is going to be too much to handle.
Cecil Shorts will have +100 yards receiving: FACT
Cecil Shorts had some choice words after last week’s loss to the Cardinals and he had a point. With Justin Blackmon out, Shorts is the Jaguars’ most viable offensive weapon. Expect Henne to target Shorts early and often to challenge cornerback Johnathan Joseph.
Ben Tate will have +100 yards rushing: FICTION
The Jaguars have had their troubles rushing the passer this season, but the front seven has done a good job against the run, particularly in the last two weeks. Ben Tate is the primary option at tailback with Arian Foster out and the Jaguars will key on stopping him and putting the game on Case Keenum’s shoulders.
The Jacksonville defense have proven themselves to be a competent group, but the offense just doesn’t have the talent to put up the necessary points. The Texans should get their third win of the season.
Prediction: Texans 23 – Jaguars 10
– Daniel Lago
Yell at me on Twitter @dlago89