Week 5 Preview: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texansby Andersen Pickard October 10, 2020 1 comment
You learn to expect the unexpected in football.
The Houston Texans are 0-4 and in the cellar of the AFC South. DeAndre Hopkins and Bill O’Brien are gone, as are the Texans’ first- and second-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. While not much better, the Jacksonville Jaguars do have one win, so they’ll be playing Sunday to remain in the No. 3 spot in their division.
For what it’s worth, the Texans’ woes aren’t entirely surprising. After all, they opened with a tough slate of opponents after a questionable offseason. Nevertheless, Houston has essentially eliminated itself from a playoff spot already. They fired Bill O’Brien from his role as head coach and general manager this week and would likely need to finish 7-5 or better to keep playing football into January. Therefore, Sunday’s game could be a preview of the two teams’ rematch on Nov. 8, which will have further implications on the draft picks belonging to the Jaguars, Texans, and Miami Dolphins, who own Houston’s first two picks in next year’s draft.
That’s in the future, though. For now, let’s focus on this weekend’s game between the divisional foes.
The Texans lead the all-time series between the teams, 23-13. Houston has won each of their last four matchups, including a 26-3 blowout in London last November. Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone is 2-5 in his career against the Texans while Romeo Crennel, the interim head coach in Houston, is 1-1 against Jacksonville.
The Jaguars are coming off a 33-25 loss courtesy of the Cincinnati Bengals and talented rookie Joe Burrow. Houston also lost last week, falling to the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 31-23. Opponents are outscoring the Jaguars and Texans at significant clips, with Jacksonville owning a -6.1 point differential and Houston checking in at -11.5.
Gardner Minshew has looked impressive for the Jaguars thus far, completing 106 passes for 1,138 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Keelan Cole has been Jacksonville’s receiving leader with D.J. Chark banged up, catching 19 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns. However, the big story out of the Jaguars’ offense is undrafted rookie running back James Robinson, who has toted the rock 60 times for 285 yards and three touchdowns.
Deshaun Watson‘s line checks in at 84 completions for 1,092 yards, six scores, and three picks. Houston’s top receiver has been Will Fuller V, whose first four weeks looked quite impressive. He has 18 catches for 274 yards and two touchdowns, putting him ahead off highly-regarded offseason acquisition Brandin Cooks. Fellow trade acquisition David Johnson has 51 carries for 197 yards and two trips to the end zone.
Arguably the biggest story for Houston has been their defense, which has yet to force a turnover, while the offense has coughed the football up five times for a league-worst give/take of negative five.
On Sunday, Minshew will be looking for his fourth straight divisional game with at least three touchdowns and a 90-plus passer rating. Watson is also eyeing a milestone of four straight divisional games with two or more scores and a 90-plus rating. A pair of Houston receivers are also on the lookout for big performances. Fuller is aiming for his third game in a row with a touchdown catch while Randall Cobb is looking for his third straight game against Jacksonville with five or more catches. For the Jaguars, Chark is aiming for his third consecutive road game with at least 80 yards while rookie Laviska Shenault Jr. seeks his third consecutive five-catch (or more) game. Cole also his sights set on continuing his streak of divisional games with a touchdown, which stands at three.
Date: Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020
Start Time: 1:00 p.m. EST
Location: Houston, Tex.
Stadium: NRG Stadium
TV Info: CBS
Betting Odds | Sponsored by Jazz Sportsbook
Point Spread: JAX +5.5 (-110) | HOU -5.5 (-110)
Moneyline: JAX +205 | HOU -235
Over/Under: O 54.5 (-110) | U 54.5 (-110)
The spread in this one is set a very accurate value of 5.5. On one hand, Houston likely won’t beat Jacksonville by more than one score, but can the Jaguars’ offense be relied on to make it significantly close late in the game. Take Jacksonville at +5.5 in this one. Meanwhile, the over/under is set very high. While these defenses aren’t great, it’s hard to imagine both teams finishing with point totals in the upper 20s.
Picking the Jaguars was tempting because Houston is 0-4 and will surely appear somewhat dysfunctional after the coaching and front office shakeup from this past week. With that said, Deshaun Watson and the offense are looking good while the relentless veteran presence of J.J. Watt on defense will help the unit be more cohesive in their pass-rushing attack. The deciding factor in this game will be the Texans’ receiving unit. If Fuller and Cooks can co-exist and keep a reliable Jacksonville secondary guessing, the Texans should be able to pick up their first win of the year.
Final Score: Texans 24, Jaguars 18
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images