Houston Texans Team Analyst John Harris breaks down a much-improved Jacksonville Jaguars team heading into Week 17.

Houston Texans Team Analyst John Harris breaks down a much-improved Jacksonville Jaguars team heading into Week 17.

It’s Week 17 and the Texans face the AFC South leading Jacksonville Jaguars. This is fair; After a marathon 15-game season, the Jaguars lead the AFC South, winning five of their last seven games and four in a row. They got a little help from the good guys last week as the Texans knocked off the Titans in Nashville 19-14, which opened the door for the young, talented and hungry Jaguars to step into the sunshine for the first time since 2017.

QB Trevor Lawrence has also seen the light, and he’s running Doug Pederson’s offense like Lewis Hamilton cruising his Mercedes around an F1 track – with guts, dedication and intelligence. However, in week five, the Jaguars’ offense sank in a loss to the Texans, scoring a season-low six points. Oh, how things have changed! In their last seven games, the Jaguars averaged 25.8 points per game and 30 points per game in the five wins in that seven-game stretch.

The Texans held them to six at Duval County in week five.

That’s a long time ago in football time, and the Jaguars have improved as much as any team in the NFL. Now, the game is an interesting one because the result has no bearing on the Jaguars’ AFC South championship hopes. That said, it could have an impact on Jaguar’s character hopes. Not to mention, the Jaguars haven’t beaten the Texans in five years. Additionally, the Texans are playing their best football of the year. All that said, this should be as compelling a Texas football game as any we’ve seen in the 2022 season.

As such, let’s get to know the Texans’ Week 17 foe – the AFC South division leading Jacksonville Jaguars

Program 2022 (7-8)
Week 1 – L @ Washington Commanders 28-26
Week 2 – W Indianapolis Colts 24-0
Week 3 – @ Los Angeles Chargers 38-10
Week 4 – L @ Philadelphia Eagles 29-21
Week 5 – L Houston Texans 13-6
Week 6 – L @ Indianapolis Colts 34-27
Week 7 – L New York Giants 23-17
Week 8 – L Denver Broncos (London) 21-17
Week 9 – W Las Vegas Raiders 27-20
Week 10 – L @ Kansas City Chiefs 27-17
Week 11 – BYE
Week 12 – W Baltimore Ravens 28-27
Week 13 – L @ Detroit Lions 40-14
Week 14 – W @ Tennessee Titans 36-22
Week 15 – W Dallas Cowboys 40-34
Week 16 – W @ New York Jets 19-3
Week 17 – @ Houston Texas
Week 18 – Tennessee Titans

Jaguar OFFENSE (in 2022 regular season)
Rushing Yards Per Game – 128.5 ypg (11th in NFL)
Passing Yards Per Game – 239.2 ypg (10th)
Total offense per game – 367.7 ypg (6th)
Turnovers Lost – 19 (7 INTs, 12 Fumbles Lost)

Jaguars starting offense projected for Week 17
QB – Trevor Lawrence
RB – Travis Etienne
WR – Marvin Jones Jr.
LT – Walker Little
LG – Tyler Shatley
RG – BRANDON SCHERFF (wounded against jets, status unknown)
RT – Jawaan Taylor
Weapon X – Jamal Agnew

Other major offensive parts
TE – Chris Manhertz
TE – Luke Farrell
WR – Tim Jones
TE – Dan Arnold

Cursive – Beginner
ALL CAPS – New to the team in 2022

Keys to winning against the Jaguar Offense

1. Young Trevor, Part 2 – Since the beginning of November, perhaps no QB in the NFL has been as accomplished as second-year Jaguars star QB Trevor Lawrence. He has thrown an interception in seven games. ONE! He also threw that interception in a game in which he threw four TD passes, completing 27 of 42 passes for 318 yards and a 109.0 rating in a 40-34 OT win over the Cowboys. He has thrown 14 TDs to that one INT in the same seven-game span. He’s had three 300-yard games in addition to FIVE 100+ QB rating games and the Jaguars are 5-2 as a result. Regardless of the stats, he has been incredibly impressive, jumping into tight windows intelligently. His decision making is off the charts in this Doug Pederson offense. He is taking calculated risks with the ball and seeing the whole field. He wasn’t doing it 100% of the time the Texans faced him in October. He’s a changed QB and that has the Jaguars in contention, maybe a year earlier than everyone expected.

2. …and the NEW CHAMPION – Near the trade deadline, the Jaguars traded their starting RB to the New York Jets and could have finished the offense as a result. Yes, it seems a little backwards to think that way, but the James Robinson tradition opened the door for Travis Etienne to be the number one, Alpha, starter, and the Jaguars offense took off as a result. Of course, Lawrence drove the bus, but Etienne was certainly checking the GPS on the road. His speed to the hole is matched only by his explosiveness through the hole. He wears the number one, so sometimes it looks like he might be a little smaller than some backs, but he’s a solid 210 pounds. He gave the Texans touchdowns in the first game, but the Jaguars ran away from him in the second half. I do NOT expect that to be the case this week. Etienne complements that offense and is sure to get 20+ touches.

3. Red Zone Winners – The Jaguars have scored in double figures in every single game this season, minus one. That’s right, in the Week 5 loss to the Texans, the Jaguars scored just six points. One of the problems for Jacksonville was the inability to score a TD in the red zone. Derek Stingley Jr. picked off a pass in the end zone to stop a drive. The Texans then forced field goals with other trips into the red zone. That MUST continue this weekend against a much improved, much more efficient Jaguars red zone attack.

Jaguars DEFENSE (in 2022 regular season)
Rushing Yards Allowed per game – 114.7 ypg (19th in NFL)
Passing yards allowed per game – 246.5 ypg (4th)
Total offense allowed per game – 361.1 ypg (26th)
Turnovers Created – 24 (13 INT, 11 Fumble Recoveries – Jaguars are +5 in TO differential)

Expect the Jaguars to start the defense for Week 17
OLB – Josh Allen
DL – FOLEY FATUKASI (Inactive last week at NYJ)/COREY PETERS
DL – DaVon Hamilton
DL – Roy Robertson-Harris
OLB – TRAVON WALKER (inactive last week in NYJ)/ARDEN KEY
CB – Tyson Campbell
S – Rayshawn Jenkins
S – Andre Cisco
5c – Three Herndons

Other main protective parts
DL – Adam Gotsis
S – Andrew Wingard
OLB – K’Lavon Chiasson
LB – Shaq Quarterman

Cursive – Beginner
ALL CAPS – New to the team in 2022

Keys to winning against the Jaguar Defense

1. Oh-LOU-a-kuhn pronounced STUD – The Texans have faced a veritable number of inside/stack linebackers in the 2022 season, but there may be no linebacker more important to their defense than Jaguars star LB Foye Oluokun. When the Texans faced the former Ivy League superstar in week five, it was clear how important he was/is to the Jaguars defense. He is quick on the football and his instincts and intelligence are extremely impressive. He’s too quick on the football, and that’s a problem because the Texans offense doesn’t always do a good job of getting a cap on mobile, active, dynamic defenders. Oluokun can break up the game with his ability to move so quickly from C-gap to C-gap. The Texans MUST have a cap on him on this play or he will end up with a dozen or more tackles, slowing down the running to a stop.

2. Tyson Knockout coverage – Growing up in high school, Tyson Campbell was certainly overlooked. A guy named Patrick Surtain II collected all the titles at American Heritage HS. Even in Georgia’s all-star defense, he was overshadowed by some of the best defensive players in the country. Well, it’s time for Campbell to get his simple treats, if you will. He’s emerging as not only Jacksonville’s best cover corner, he’s become arguably the best cover corner in the AFC South. With length and a ton of range, Campbell is becoming THE guy teams don’t want to challenge. The Texans did it with Nico Collins last game, but that’s because Nico is 6-4, 215 lbs. Unfortunately, Nico won’t be playing in this game and, as a result, I really want to avoid shooting Campbell, period.

3. Starting QB…Jeff Mills? – The Texans have made good use of the two-QB system, in large part because both Davis Mills and Jeff Driskel have been extremely professional about the situation. They have accepted the situation and made the most of it. But if Davis Mills shows the smarts early in this game that he showed in that final contest against Tennessee, it might be time to let him take the game completely back into his hands. Historically, while a Texan, Mills has thrived when he got the game off to a good start. A shaky start hasn’t killed his chances (the 2021 final against Tennessee comes to mind), but in the games I really remember, he found that rhythm early and kept it throughout the game, for the most part. But if he can’t find a groove, just let the two keep rolling until they find the right gear for this offense against the league’s 26th-ranked defense.

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