Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans
Sunday – January 3 – 12:00 pm CT
NRG Stadium – Houston, Texas
Records Before the Game
Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10, 1-6 away)
Houston Texans (8-7, 4-3 Home)
Starting out this season going 1-4 the first five games, it has been quite the turnaround the last ten games for the Houston Texans. Through four different starting quarterbacks, the leaders of the AFC South managed to win seven of their last ten. Sunday at NRG Stadium in front of their home crowd, they will get to cap the regular season off as division champions with a victory over the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars come into town a little more settled at their quarterback position all season than the Texans have been. Blake Bortles has turned his second year in the league into one of major improvement from his rookie campaign. He comes into this game tied for the league lead in touchdown passes with 35. He is less than 180 yards shy of setting the franchise record for passing yards. He has a solid set of receivers who like himself, grew leaps and bounds in their second year as well in the league in Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. The two have combined for 136 receptions for 2,305 yards with 24 touchdowns. Running back T.J. Yeldon is the team’s leader in rushing. The rookie from Alabama missed the first game this season between the two teams, a 31-20 win by Houston, as he sat out with a groin injury. He will also miss Sunday’s game.
Brandon Weeden couldn’t buy a win in Dallas as he was pressed into duty after Tony Romo’s injury in Week 2. He was eventually cut from the Cowboys back in November and picked up by the Texans. A turn of events which saw starter Brian Hoyer go down with concussion issues and backup quarterback T.J. Yates is lost for the remainder of the season. Weeden somehow found himself winning critical games down the stretch for a team making a playoff push. Weeden threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in last week’s 34-6 drumming of the Tennessee Titans. However after Hoyer passed the NFL’s concussion protocol on Wednesday, head coach Bill O’Brien announced Hoyer as the starter for Sunday. Weeden will be the backup.
DeAndre Hopkins obviously doesn’t care who is playing quarterback for the Texans this season. His play has been stellar throughout regardless. Hopkins is just 68 yards shy of going over 1,500 yards for the year. Weeden will depend greatly on Hopkins to come through for him in the passing game Sunday. Alfred Blue along with Chris Polk will look to give the running game a boost, easing some of the pressure off of Weeden as well.
The Texans defense will have their hands full with the young and talented Jaguars offense. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will miss Sunday’s game with a foot injury. J.J. Watt, still recovering from his broken left hand, will have to get to Bortles to disrupt his comfort level in the pocket. The Jaguars defense has been atrocious at times this year. Playing against a quarterback who is not all that comfortable in the system could benefit the group as a whole. They will dial up many blitz packages to get to Weeden.
Prediction: Texans 27 – Jaguars 24