For the first time this season, the Jacksonville Jaguars are in the national spotlight as they face the Houston Texans in a battle for the top overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft. Despite being at home against an opponent they beat two weeks ago, the Jaguars are underdogs. Coming off of their most complete performance of the season in Cleveland, the Jaguars have the confidence to deliver the fans their first win at home.
So how will the Jaguars do in their lone primetime game? Here are some well thought out predictions:
Cecil Shorts will have +100 yards receiving: FACT
Cecil Shorts has been targeted more after his complaints a couple of weeks ago but he hasn’t really made the most of them. Shorts has had a few costly drops, but he’s also flashed some of the skill that could make him one of the top receivers in the game. His move on Joe Haden – one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL – for the game winning touchdown on Sunday was a thing of beauty. This week Shorts will get into a groove early and rack up the yards.
J.J. Watt will have a sack: FICTION
It’s generally pretty stupid to think J.J. Watt can be contained, but the Jacksonville offensive line has improved in pass blocking over the last few weeks. The Jaguars only allowed one sack last week after giving up six to the Texans two weeks ago. I’m going out on a limb here, but I think Jedd Fisch finds a way to move most of the offense away from Watt.
Case Keenum will throw at least one interception: FACT
The Jacksonville secondary has arguably been the most consistent unit on the team despite also being the youngest. After a rough start, Johnathan Cyprien has improved and emerged as a playmaker in the back end. Dwayne Gratz, Alan Ball, and Will Blackmon have all played well and are rarely beat outright by opposing receivers. Keenum had an awful day two weeks ago and the Jaguar defense should frustrate him again Thursday night.
I haven’t predicted a Jaguar victory so far this season, but the team has momentum and is due for a win at home. The way head coach Gus Bradley has this team playing may leave the Jaguars out of the Teddy Bridgewater sweepstakes, but it validates the message Bradley has preached and the effort the players have exerted all season.
Jaguars 23 – Texans 20
– Daniel Lago
Yell at me on Twitter @dlago89