What: Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4) vs. Houston Texans (4-9)
Where: EverBank Field, Jacksonville
When: 1 p.m.
Latest line/Over-under: Jaguars -11/38
Why you should watch
This could an historic day for the Jaguars. A victory in this one will guarantee them their first playoff berth since 2007. Truth be known, the Jaguars don’t even have to win today to guarantee themselves a playoff berth. They could tie or lose to the Texans and still guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs as long a few other things go their way. But nobody in Jacksonville wants to back into the playoffs. The Jaguars have been one of the best teams in the league all year and their hope now is to finish strong. They certainly have the ability to do that, even with running back Leonard Fournette hurting again and now ruled out for the game. The last thing the Jags need to do now is stumble into a slump, so they have to take the beaten-down Texans seriously and treat them like the division title contenders they were expected to be. If they can do that it will be a sign the Jaguars are on track for a strong showing in the playoffs as well. If they don’t, it may be a sign this team is about to turn back into a pumpkin.
Key on: Jaguars cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye
Ramsey and Bouye took turns tracking Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins during the last meeting between these two teams. They’ll probably do the same again this time. After all, the ploy worked to near perfection last time. Hopkins caught just seven of the 16 passes that were thrown his way for 55 yards in the first meeting and while he did score a touchdown he wasn’t much of a factor in what proved to be a 29-7 Jaguars victory. Just as many expected they would, Ramsey and Bouye have grown into one of the best cornerback duos on the league and they can further solidify their place in that conversation by shutting Hopkins down yet again. Hopkins hasn’t had too many days like the one he had against the Jaguars in the season opener this year so he’ll be looking for some revenge in what is fast becoming one of the better rivalries between a receiver and a pair of cornerbacks in the league.
The Texans will go into this game with the worst pass-blocking offensive line in football, according to Pro Football Focus. After ranking 27th overall with a cumulative pass-block rating of 74.0 last year, the Texans have fallen to 32nd with a rating of 66.4 this year. The drop of 7.6-percent is the largest since PFF began crunching numbers and it figures to drop a bit more today as a result of trying to hold off the likes of Jaguars pass rushers Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue. Those two have combined for 119 total quarterback pressures and a 12.6 pass-rush productivity mark that is the fifth-highest in the league among 4-3 defensive ends. The Texans would be wise to install a lot of quick hitters into their offensive attack to keep the Jags pass rushers at bay, but let’s be honest. Opponents have tried doing that against the Jaguars all year and it has seldom made much of a difference. It probably won’t make much of a difference today either.
Week two fantasy football tips for Dolphins and Jaguars
With week two of the NFL season starting tonight many are starting to lock-in on match-up’s for Fantasy Football this weekend. Last week the Bucs and Niners game didn’t live up to the over. The Jags lost Nick Foles, but still managed to put up points. As for the Dolphins, well, not much went well for them last week. Moving on:
This week the Bucs did some damage fantasy-wise Thursday night battle at Carolina. WR Chris Godwin continues to make those who spent an early round pick on him look smarter and smarter with an 8 catch, 121 yard, 1 TD reception day. He’s been Jameis Winston’s favorite/best target, so far, in 2018.
Tampa Bay also pounded the run with Peyton Barber with 23 tough carries for 82 yards and the other Buccaneers TD. There will be plenty of owners smiling who took Barber and in a lot of leagues, he may still be available.
Onto help for Sunday,
The Jaguars got some bad luck last week when Nick Floes threw his first touchdown as a member of the team and at the same time injured his shoulder for the next several weeks. When Gardner Minshew (above) came into the game though the Jags were still able to throw, he hit both Dede Westbrook and Chris Conley for touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
With a rookie under center look for the Jags to really get Lenard Fournette involved early. On Monday the Texans allowed 140 yards rushing to the Saints running backs. Conley also had the most targets on the team with 7. D.J. Chark lead the team in yards with 146 yards.
As for the Dolphins, they struggled last week. They now face the Patriots and again will face an uphill battle. In a game, they are expected to be trailing a lot that means a lot of passing. Preston Williams found the end zone. Davante Parker led the team in targets with seven but only came down with 3 for 75 yards.
With a lot of potential garbage time, one of the Fins receivers could put up some good numbers late in the game helping out your team.
Jags rookie QB Gardner Minshew embracing start against Texans
The preseason hype surrounding Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles ended quickly, when he broke his left clavicle in the first quarter of the opener Sunday with K.C., keeping him out indefinitely. Duval is wasting no time though…rallying behind rookie QB Gardner Minshew II. Partly because of his game, and partly because of his mustache.
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) September 9, 2019
Minshew is expected to start at quarterback this Sunday against the Houston Texans. He played the final three quarters of a season-opening loss and had a solid, and at times outstanding, day, completing 22 of 25 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns. Minshew also played extensively in the preseason to get live reps.
The a sixth-round selection from Washington State spoke to the media on Wednesday about how he plans to enter into his new leadership role.
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) September 11, 2019
“I learned a lot of things going to different schools and learned the right way to step in a try to lead and that’s going in and earning respect and not demanding respect.”
Similarly to how he stepped into his QB1 role, Minshew’s path into the NFL has been anything but traditional. He began his college football career in 2015 at Northwest Mississippi Community College and led his team to a NJCAA National Football Championship, passing for 3,228 yards with a 60.8% completion percentage.
Minshew then transferred to East Carolina University in 2016 where he played in seven games while starting two at QB for the Pirates. With one remaining year of eligibility he seriously considered becoming a third string QB at Alabama behind Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa, primarily to begin a foundation for an eventual coaching career.
However, Minshew decided to enroll as a graduate student at Washington State after receiving a phone call from Washington State head coach Mike Leach who asked him, “Do you want to be a backup at Alabama, or lead the nation in passing?” Last season he did in fact lead the nation in passing averaging 367.6 yards per game. Minshew was then selected by the Jaguars in the sixth round, 178th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.
While his impressive performance last Sunday landed him the starting spot for this weekend in Houston, he won’t be without any competition until Foles’ return. On Monday the team did a deal with the Steelers for backup QB, Joshua Dobbs.
Dobbs is a former 4th round pick in the 2017 draft by the Steelers out of the University of Tennessee. He did not play in a game in his rookie season and in 2018 saw limited action primarily in mop-up duty of five games throwing only 12 total passes for 43 yards and an interception.
While the Jags won’t be without any hope on offense, it’s clear they’ll be trying to piece together the next few weeks until Foles is back. It’s going to take others, like RB Leonard Fournette, to step up and carry more of the load in the short term, if the Jags are going to have any playoff chance at the end of the season.
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