It's Week 17 and the Texans face the AFC South leading Jacksonville Jaguars. That's right; after a marathon season and 15 games, the Jaguars lead the AFC South, winning five of their last seven games and four in a row. They got a little help from the good guys last week as the Texans took out the Titans in Nashville 19-14, which opened the door for the young, talented and hungry Jaguars to step into the sunlight for the first time since 2017.
QB Trevor Lawrence has also seen the light and he's driving Doug Pederson's offense like Lewis Hamilton navigating his Mercedes around an F1 track - daringly, dedicated and intelligently. In week five, though, the Jaguars offense bogged down in a loss to the Texans scoring a season low six points. Oh, how things have changed! In their last seven games, the Jaguars averaged 25.8 points per game and 30 points per game in the five wins over that seven game stretch.
The Texans held them to six in Duval County in Week Five.
That's a long time ago in football time and the Jaguars have improved as much as any team in the NFL. Now, the game is an interesting one because the result has no bearing on the Jaguars AFC South championship hopes. That said, it could have an impact on the Jaguars wildcard hopes. Not to mention, the Jaguars haven't beaten the Texans in five years. Furthermore, the Texans are playing their best football of the year. Taking all of that into account, this should be as compelling a Texans football game as any we've seen in the 2022 season.
As such, let's get to Know the Texans' Week 17 Foe - the AFC South division leading Jacksonville Jaguars
2022 Schedule (7-8)
Week 1 - L @ Washington Commanders 28-26
Week 2 - W Indianapolis Colts 24-0
Week 3 - @ Los Angeles Chargers 38-10
Week 4 - L @ Philadelphia Eagles 29-21
Week 5 - L Houston Texans 13-6
Week 6 - L @ Indianapolis Colts 34-27
Week 7 - L New York Giants 23-17
Week 8 - L Denver Broncos (London) 21-17
Week 9 - W Las Vegas Raiders 27-20
Week 10 - L @ Kansas City Chiefs 27-17
Week 11 - BYE
Week 12 - W Baltimore Ravens 28-27
Week 13 - L @ Detroit Lions 40-14
Week 14 - W @ Tennessee Titans 36-22
Week 15 - W Dallas Cowboys 40-34
Week 16 - W @ New York Jets 19-3
Week 17 - @ Houston Texans
Week 18 - Tennessee Titans
Jaguars OFFENSE (in 2022 regular season)
Rushing Yards Per game - 128.5 ypg (11th in the NFL)
Passing Yards Per game - 239.2 ypg (10th)
Total offense per game - 367.7 ypg (6th)
Turnovers lost - 19 (7 INT, 12 Fumbles lost)
Expected Jaguars starting offense for Week 17
QB - Trevor Lawrence
RB - Travis Etienne
WR - CHRISTIAN KIRK
WR - Marvin Jones Jr.
WR - ZAY JONES
TE - EVAN ENGRAM
LT - Walker Little
LG - Tyler Shatley
C - LUKE FORTNER
RG - BRANDON SCHERFF (injured v. Jets, status unknown)
RT - Jawaan Taylor
Weapon X - Jamal Agnew
Other Key Offensive pieces
TE - Chris Manhertz
TE - Luke Farrell
RB - JAMYCAL HASTY
RB - SNOOP CONNER
WR - Tim Jones
TE - Dan Arnold
Italics - Rookie
ALL CAPS - New to team in 2022
Keys to winning v. the Jaguars Offense
1. The NEW Trevor, Part 2 - Since the start of the month of November, perhaps no QB in the NFL has been on as much of a run as 2nd year Jaguars star QB Trevor Lawrence. He's thrown one interception in seven games. ONE! He also threw that interception in a game in which he threw four TD passes, completing 27 of 42 passes for 318 yards and a 109.0 rating in a 40-34 OT win over the Cowboys. He's thrown 14 TDs to that one INT in the same seven game period. He's had three 300-yard games, in addition to FIVE 100+ QB rating games and the Jaguars are 5-2 as a result. Regardless of stats, he's been incredibly impressive, throwing into tight windows intelligently. His decision making is off the charts good in this Doug Pederson offense. He's taking calculated risks with the ball and seeing the whole field. He was not doing that 100% of the time when the Texans faced him in October. He's a changed QB and that has the Jaguars in contention, perhaps a year earlier than most everyone anticipated.
2. …and NEW CHAMPION - Near the trade deadline, the Jaguars traded their starting RB to the New York Jets and it might have completed the offense as a result. Yes, it seems a bit backwards to think that way, but the trade of James Robinson opened the door for Travis Etienne to be the number one, the Alpha, the starter and the Jaguars offense took off as a result. Sure, Lawrence has driven the bus, but Etienne was certainly manning the GPS down the road. His quickness to the hole is only matched by his explosiveness through the hole. He wears number one so it sometimes looks as if he might be a bit smaller than some backs, but he's a stout 210 lb. He gave the Texans fits in the first matchup, but the Jaguars went away from him in the second half. I'm NOT expecting that to be the case this week AT ALL. Etienne makes that offense whole and he'll get 20+ touches for certain.
3. Red Zone winners - The Jaguars have scored in double figures in every single game this season, minus one. That's right, in the loss to the Texans in week five, the Jaguars scored just six points. One of the issues for Jacksonville was the inability to score a TD in the red zone. Derek Stingley Jr. picked off a pass in the end zone to stop one drive. The Texans then forced field goals with the other trips to the red zone. That MUST continue this weekend against a much improved, much more efficient Jaguars' red zone offense.
Jaguars DEFENSE (in 2022 regular season)
Rushing Yards Allowed Per game - 114.7 ypg (19th in the NFL)
Passing Yards Allowed Per game - 246.5 ypg (4th)
Total offense Allowed per game - 361.1 ypg (26th)
Turnovers generated - 24 (13 INT, 11 Fumble recoveries - Jaguars are +5 in TO margin)
Expected Jaguars starting defense for Week 17
OLB - Josh Allen
DL - FOLEY FATUKASI (Inactive last week at NYJ)/COREY PETERS
DL - DaVon Hamilton
DL - Roy Robertson-Harris
OLB - TRAVON WALKER (inactive last week at NYJ)/ARDEN KEY
WLB - DEVIN LLOYD/CHAD MUMA
MLB - FOYE OLUOKUN
CB - Tyson Campbell
S - Rayshawn Jenkins
S - Andre Cisco
CB - DARIOUS WILLIAMS
5c - Tre Herndon
Other Key Defensive pieces
DL - Adam Gotsis
S - Andrew Wingard
OLB - K'Lavon Chiasson
LB - Shaq Quarterman
DL - JEREMIAH LEDBETTER
Italics - Rookie
ALL CAPS - New to team in 2022
Keys to winning v. the Jaguars Defense
1. Oh-LOU-a-kuhn spells S-T-U-D - The Texans have faced a number of truly great inside/stack linebackers in the 2022 season, but there may be no more important linebacker to his defense than Jaguars star LB Foye Oluokun. When the Texans faced the former Ivy League superstar in week five, it was clear how important he was/is to the Jaguar defense. He's quick to the football and his instincts and smarts are wildly impressive. He's so quick to the football and that's an issue because the Texans offense doesn't always do a great job of getting a hat on mobile, active and dynamic linebackers. Oluokun can wreck the game with his ability to move so quickly from C gap to C gap. The Texans MUST get a hat on him in this game or he's going to end up with a dozen tackles or more, slowing the run game to a halt.
2. Tyson's Knockout Coverage - Growing up in high school, Tyson Campbell was certainly overlooked. Some guy named Patrick Surtain II garnered all the headlines at American Heritage HS. Even on the star studded Georgia defense, he was overshadowed by some of the best defensive players in the nation. Well, it's about time for Campbell to get his just desserts, if you will. He's emerging as not only Jacksonville's best cover corner, he's become, arguably, the best cover corner in the AFC South. With length and a ton of range, Campbell is becoming THAT guy that teams don't want to challenge. The Texans did that with Nico Collins in the last matchup, but that's because Nico is 6-4, 215 lb. Unfortunately, Nico won't be playing in this game and, as a result, I really want to avoid throwing at Campbell, period.
3. Starting at QB…Jeff Mills? - The Texans have utilized the two QB system well, in large part, because both Davis Mills and Jeff Driskel have been incredibly professional about the situation. They have accepted the situation and made the most of it. But, if Davis Mills shows early in this game the acumen that he showed on that final drive against Tennessee, it might be time to let him have the game fully back in his hands. Historically, while a Texan, Mills has flourished when he's started the game well. A shaky start hasn't killed off his chances (2021 finale v. Tennessee comes to mind) but in games that I truly remember, he found that rhythm early and carried it through the entire game, for the most part. But, if he can't find the groove, just let the two continue to rotate through until they can find the proper gear for this offense against the 26th ranked defense in the league.
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