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Jacksonville Jaguars

Gameday – Jaguars seeking historic outcome vs Texans

Roy Cummings

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

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.

 

 Statistically speaking

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.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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