HOUSTON – The Houston Texans will finally catch a break after their trip to London to face the Jaguars on Sunday. A literal break. The team will have their off week before playing again on November 17th against Baltimore.
At 5-3, the Texans are in second place in the AFC South, just a half game behind the Colts. Their hopes for a division title and a playoff berth certainly get a major boost if they can defeat the Jaguars for a second time.
Key matchups to watch
Texans tackle against Jaguars edge rushers
Houston has been struggling at the tackle position since rookie right tackle Tytus Howard went down with a knee injury against Kansas City last month. Rod Johnson initially filled in well before he got hurt, then Dan Skipper and Chris Clark were next up as the ability to protect quarterback Deshaun Watson waned. Add to that, Laremy Tunsil suffered a shoulder injury and both Howard & Tunsil are listed as questionable for the game. Head coach Bill O'Brien indicated both were game-time decisions.
Twelve different Jaguars defenders have had a hand in at least one sack, led by rookie defensive end Josh Allen. Allen's seven sacks are tops among rookies and rank 7th overall in the league. He was held without one against the Texans in week two, though the Jaguars sacked Watson three times and hit him seven times overall.
Texans Deandre Hopkins against Jaguars A.J. Bouye
Over the last several seasons, this game would bring one of the NFL's most anticipated battles between Hopkins and the since-departed Jalen Ramsey. Now the job of checking Hopkins falls to the former Texans cornerback. Hopkins leads the AFC with 60 receptions and ranks 4th with 617 yards. He's also posted over 100 yards receiving in each of the last two games. Hopkins 40 yards receiving against Jacksonville in week two represent his lowest total of the season.
Bouye spent four seasons in Houston as a teammate of Hopkins before leaving for Jacksonville three seasons ago. Bouye had six interceptions in his first season with the Jaguars in 2017 and made the Pro Bowl. He has just two interceptions in 20 games since..Bouye missed the week two matchup against Houston due to injury.
Texans secondary against Jaguars wide receivers
The Texans secondary remains very banged up even with the possible return of Johnathan Joseph from injury. Tashaun Gipson (back/wrist), Lonnie Johnson (concussion) and Bradley Roby (hamstring) remained in Houston for this game as they continue to recover from their respective injuries. They've had to run every available player out on the field and find players off the free agent market for weeks because of their injury issues. The Jaguars receiving group has played well all season amidst a breakout D.J. Chark's breakout season. His 660 yards lead the AFC as do his six touchdown receptions.