The Jacksonville Jaguars should be highly motivated to beat the Houston Texans in Week 12. For starters, this will be a rematch of their Week 3 loss. Also, falling to their divisional foes would drop them to second place in the No. 2 in the AFC South, and play catch-up the rest of the season. Head Doug Pederson, for one, knows this is going to be a big game.
"It's not the end of the year, but it's big because it's the next game, right?" Pederson told the local media Friday. "It's big because it's the AFC South. It's big because both teams are playing well. It's been a while since both teams have been in this situation together, so I think all of that plays into how big this type of football game is, but you still have to approach it, quite honestly, no different than last week or the week before and he's still gotta go play and try to calm your mind and execute your game plan."
Pederson is right. It's been a while since both the Jaguars and Houston were playing meaningful football at this point of the season. It's true that Jacksonville was in the middle of a playoff push last year but the Texans managed to win just three games. This time though, both teams could qualify for the postseason, and whoever wins in Week 12 will seize the top spot in the division. With that in mind, here are three keys to beating Houston:
3. The Jaguars must avoid penalties, drops vs. the Texans in Week 12
The Jaguars had four drops and were flagged six times for 49 yards against the Texans in Week 3. On top of that, kicker Brandon McManus failed two field goal attempts and had a kickoff returned for a touchdown. Simply, Jacksonville couldn't get out of their own way that day.
Working in the Jags' favor this time around is that McManus hasn't missed a field goal since then. Their skill-position players have cut down on the number of drops, and Jacksonville has been one of the least penalized teams in the league in recent weeks.
Moreover, wide receiver Zay Jones didn't play against the Texans in Week 3 but he's set to suit up in the rematch. Having him in the mix will prevent the Houston defense from drawing coverage away from Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk.
Against the Tennessee Titans, the Jaguars didn't turn the ball over once. If they can keep the trend going in Week 12, they should have a favorable chance to beat the Texans on the road.