This Week 15 matchup features division foes battling for very different reasons. The Houston Texans currently sit tied for first in the AFC South with the Tennessee Titans at a 7-6 record. The Titans have a tough matchup against the Chiefs, so a Texans win could put them a game ahead in the division. A wild card spot is a possibility, but the Texans might need to win the division to make the playoffs. The Jacksonville Jaguars, on the other hand, are just battling for dignity. They currently sit at the bottom of the division and third worst in the league with a 2-11 record. They continue to chase fans out of their stadium with poor performances, essentially making home games away games. Vikings and Broncos fans took over EverBank Field after the Jaguars failed to show any promise.
The Jaguars have another tough team in front of them. In their last two games, they’ve had to face two of the toughest pass defenses. They face another great pass defense in the Texans who currently rank 5th in passing yards allowed per game with 212.8 yards. The Jaguars’ best chance to win this game is to have a solid rushing attack, but it may be difficult if Chris Ivory is inactive for the third straight week.
T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant have not been successful in Ivory’s absence. This team needs their power back, but it might not matter in this game. These two teams met earlier in the season with the Texans prevailing 24-21, but the score makes the game look a lot closer than it was. The Jaguars scored most of their points in the 4th quarter when they were down by 14. Blake Bortles did not do much until the 4th quarter and the Jaguars couldn’t get anything going on the ground. They only rushed for a total of 80 yards, with Yeldon and Ivory rushing for about 3.5 yards per carry each. Their healthy rushing attack did not do much against the Texans, so I do not expect that their now banged up rushing attack will do much this week.
Blake Bortles will need to have a good game, which will be difficult. He struggled against the Vikings and Broncos and has not had good success against the Texans.
Blake Bortles on having interceptions returned for touchdowns past three games against Texans: "I've gotta be a better tackler."
— Phillip Heilman (@phillip_heilman) December 14, 2016
This just does not bode well for the Jaguars. It does not look like they can have a successful running or passing attack against the Texans. They will have to rely solely on their defense to make plays and put the offense in good field position, but that has not happened so far this season. The Jaguars’ defense has not been good at forcing turnovers. They can get stops, but the stops result in punts that put the offense deep in their own territory. The defense has stopped other teams’ passing attacks, but they have been weak against the run game. Earlier in the season, the Jaguars held Osweiler to 99 passing yards, but they were killed by the run game. They allowed 181 rushing yards, which led to the loss. They will have to shut down Lamar Miller if they want to win this game.
The keys to winning this game involve the defensive line stopping the run and Bortles having a good game. This defensive line does not have to get pressure on Osweiler. They just need to force him to throw the ball. Osweiler will make mistakes on his own. His mistakes will be limited though if the Jaguars cannot stop the run game. If they force Osweiler to throw the ball the Jaguars can win this game. They also need a good outing from Bortles. A good run game would be nice, but Bortles needs to start producing. He does not have great receivers, but Marqise Lee can help him move the ball.
Lee has stepped up as the Jaguars’ #1 receiver and he could pose problems for the Texans defense. He is a quick receiver who is great at going up and making the catch. Bortles needs to find Lee and look his way. A win is definitely possible if the Jaguars can have a successful pass attack and if they can stop the run. The passing game may have trouble against a tough Texans defense, but Bortles needs to show what he can do. He needs to make accurate passes and lead his receivers.
Last week I predicted a 24-14 win for the Vikings and I predict the same score for this game with a Texans win. The Texans may be a 7-6 team, but they are still a good team that can play very well against a struggling Jaguars unit.