JAGUARS VS. TEXANS
SUNDAY, 1 P.M. ET, NRG STADIUM, HOUSTON uTV: CBS, DIRECTV 708
Announcers: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton
About the Jaguars: The Jaguars finally made it through their nightmarish preseason during which key starters on both sides of the ball missed chunks of time with injuries and the team was mired in a quarterback controversy when struggled. After briefly being benched by head coach
Bortles appears ready for redemption. He watched from the sidelines as the same veteran quarterback he replaced three years ago, replaced him as the starter. Now, Bortles gets another chance, and he’s surrounded by key offensive players led by WR and rookie RB
The revamped defense should back a better pass rush, and new faces in the secondary will help CB a rookie phenom last season. The Jaguars haven’t won a season opener since 2011 and haven’t won on the road in Week 1 in 13 years.
About the Texans: It has been an emotional few weeks for the Texans as the team and the city of Houston have dealt with unprecedented and devastating flooding brought on by Hurricane Harvey. After practicing in New Orleans and facing the Saints in their third preseason game as Harvey was making landfall, the Texans spent several days stuck in Dallas with Houston’s airports closed. Their final preseason game against the Cowboys was canceled so the players could return home to their families. Now, they get a chance to lift the city. Starting QB takes the reins with rookie waiting in the wings. DE is back alongside 2014 top pick OLB and the DE J.J. Watt is back after missing most of 2016 recuperating from back surgery.
league’s top-ranked defense last season.
After spending four seasons in Houston, Bouye is tasked with shadowing Hopkins, whom he frequently defended in practices for years. After struggling to get on the same page with Brock Osweiler throughout 2016, Hopkins seeks a bounce-back season with Savage.
In the Texans’ two meetings with the Jaguars in 2016, Miller racked up 37 carries between the two games, rushing for 83 yards in the first matchup, followed by 63 yards in the second game, including a game-tying touchdown in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, which gave Houston the win after the extra point was converted. If he is effective against the Jaguars, the Texans won’t have to put too much pressure on Savage.
The Jaguars lost both games to the Texans last season by a combined four points, losing 24-21 at home in their first meeting and 21-20 in Houston.
KEYS TO VICTORY
1. Quarterback accuracy: Between Bortles and Osweiler in this matchup last season, there were errant passes and interceptions. Staying on target will be critical to establishing momentum and opening up the defense.
2. Special teams: Nine field goals were made between the teams in their meetings last year, with two misses coming from Houston K
added a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown.
3. QB protection: The Texans sacked Bortles four times in 2016, while the Jaguars managed one sack against the Texans. Keeping the quarterback upright is huge, especially considering the level of talent in both pass rushes and the shakiness at quarterback.
4. Secondary: The Jaguars might have the clear edge over the Texans here. Playing up to that potential and exploiting those matchups is a must in staying within reach.
Doug Matchup to watch: Jaguars CB A.J. Bouye vs. Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins.