Jacksonville Jaguars vs Houston Texans: 5 Players To Watch

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Jacksonville Jaguars vs Houston Texans in the first matchup between division rivals so far this year has some pretty big playoff implications…well, at least for the Texans. The Texans sit at 6-6 and are in desperate need for victories as they hope to end the season above .500 with a chance to sneak into the playoffs as a wild card. The Jaguars get to play spoiler, meeting the Texans on the gridiron twice in the final four games, including what could be an all-important week 17 matchup.

In this week’s Jacksonville Jaguars vs Houston Texans, you’ve got to expect the teams to feel each other out a bit. The Texans have had the Jags’ number in recent years, but last year they were swept by the four-win Jaguars en route to a terrible 2-14 finish.

This year, the Texans are climbing back to the top of the heap while the Jags hope to salvage the rest of the season and show they have made development through the year.

Like most division games, this is going to be a gritty battle between two rivals who know each other well. Head coach Bill O’Brien and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick are new for the Texans while Jags head coach Gus Bradley hopes to find a way to win with new rookie quarterback Blake Bortles.

A number of players will be key in this matchup. Let’s break down five players to watch in this game. We’ll focus on players not named J.J. Watt as he’s a given.

Nov 30, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) throws the ball during the second quarter against the New York Giants at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

1) Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Bortles is coming off his second win as a pro and his first game playing mistake free football. His interceptions have been trouble for the Jags all season long and he’ll have to limit them if the Jags have a hope of winning. The Texans are the best takeaway defense in the league, so all eyes will be on Bortles every time he drops back to pass. If he can take care of the ball and get some balance from the running game, then the Texans will be out one of their biggest strengths. Bortles has not had to deal with a pass rusher as dominant as J.J. Watt all season, so this will be a good indicator of how he handles excellent pass rushers. The Texans are licking their chops thinking of playing Bortles, almost daring him to try and be as aggressive as he has been all season. Bortles is coming off two straight games below 200 yards passing and you have to think he’ll want to improve on that. He’ll have to find the sweet spot between aggression and playing it safe.

Next: Can Arian Foster Keep it Up?