Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans Match Up Preview

Credit: lineups.com

Tale of the Tape

Jacksonville Jaguars

2020: 1-15 (15 straight losses to end season)

Defense ranked 31st, registering just 18 sacks

Offense ranked 28th, averaging 326 yards per game

Key Addition: Trevor Lawrence

Houston Texans

2020: 4-12

Defense ranked 30th, registering just 9 takeaways

Offense ranked 13th, averaging 375 yards per game

Key Addition: Tyrod Taylor

The Houston Texans lead the all time series 25-13

What’s Changed in Duval?

Short answer? Everything. Shad Khan brought in one of best collegiate coaches of all time, one with a stellar track record and a burning hatred for losing. Trevor Lawrence is one of the most highly regarded quarterback prospects of the last decade. A new, aggressive scheme defensively is noticeably improved in the front seven. The secondary, although young, is very athletic and filled with play makers.

The optimism around the team is as high as it has ever been. Sunday’s game in Houston marks the beginning of a new era. This is so much bigger than a week one divisional showdown on the road. There are no moral victories to be had when playing for Urban Meyer. The expectation is to win, whatever the cost.

A Look at Houston

Um, Houston? You have a problem. The Texans are one of the most talent barren teams in the NFL. Without going into depth and opinion surrounding the star quarterback, suffice to say without him the Texans are downright bad on paper. Marcus Cannon starting at right tackle, a last minute change at kicker, former Jaguar Chris Conley a starting receiver, times are tough for the Texans. First year Head Coach David Culley absolutely has his work cut out for him.

Tyrod Taylor is a veteran presence at the quarterback position, and he should be aided by a consistent run game. How much pressure the Jaguars generate in passing situations and how well they defend the run will dictate this game. Defensively, the Texans can make life difficult for an offense that hasn’t had a chance to gel quite yet. Whitney Mercilus has always been a problem for the Jaguars offensive line.

Very few situations would lead one to believe a team coming off of 15 straight regular season losses deserve to be favored, but this is one. The Texans are seemingly without any sense of identity or stability right now. Divisional games are always a bit unpredictable, but it is difficult to point to any phase of the game and argue the Texans are better right now.

Key Battles

As with every game, there are critical match ups that can greatly influence the outcome. Here are five of the biggest battles to watch on Sunday.

  • Jaguars OT’s v. Whitney Mercilus
  • Texans OT’s v. Josh Allen/K’Lavon Chaisson
  • Jaguars secondary v. Brandon Cooks
  • Texans secondary v. DJ Chark
  • Trevor Lawrence v. Texans DC Lovie Smith

Final Thoughts and Predictions

It is easy to get excited if you are a Jacksonville Jaguar fan right now. Why wouldn’t you be? However, let’s take off the teal colored glasses for a moment. The Houston Texans won 4 games to the Jaguars 1 a season ago. Much of the Jaguars fortunes rests on young players adapting to the NFL.

A brand new coaching staff and scheme on both sides of the ball will have growing pains. Trevor Lawrence will make rookie mistakes. The Texans are a veteran team who could easily force a game defining mistake or two. The secondary could fail in big moments. This is an NFL regular season game, and anything can happen. All the optimism in the world doesn’t change the fact that this team was the worst in the league a year ago.

But… I feel confident in predicting the Urban Meyer era starting in the win column. The defense will harass Tyrod Taylor and register 3 sacks and 1 takeaway. Trevor Lawrence throws for 280 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Chark and Shenault. James Robinson breaks 100 yards on the ground and adds a score of his own. Oh yeah, and Lambo is automatic. Jags win, 27-17.

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