Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans preview, pick: Can Jags keep foot on the gas?

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans preview, pick: Can Jags keep foot on the gas?

No matter what happens this week, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be playing for the AFC South title and a playoff spot at home in Week 18 against the Tennessee Titans.

But coach Doug Pederson says Jacksonville won’t take things easy Sunday when it travels to division rival Houston.

“There’s never a pointless game — never ever, ever, ever,” he said.

Pick and preview from Yardbarker

I hope both teams do their best, have fun and nobody gets hurt. The division will come down to Tennessee and Jacksonville in Week 18. If anything, the Texans have more at stake in this game. They still haven’t sewn up the first pick in next spring’s draft. Trevor Lawrence can reach an individual milestone, at least, as he needs just 251 yards to become the third Jacksonville quarterback ever with over 4,000 passing yards in a season. – Chris Mueller, Yardbarker

The pick: Jaguars 29, Texans 16

Looking for the latest Jags-Texans odds? Click here for LIVE updates on OddsChecker!

So there won’t be weeks off for quarterback Trevor Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne and tight end Evan Engram. Not for outside linebacker Josh Allen, safety Andrew Wingard or rookie outside linebacker Travon Walker.

“You play to win every game,” Pederson said. “The only way to rest players is if they are injured and can’t leave.”

It’s been all systems go for the Jaguars (7-8) lately as they’ve won four of five, including a 19-3 road win last Thursday over the New York Jets. That result, combined with Houston’s 19-14 upset of Tennessee on Saturday in Nashville, pushed Jacksonville into a tie with the Titans for first place — with the Jaguars currently in possession.

Lawrence threw for 229 yards and rushed for the game’s only touchdown, while Riley Patterson made four field goals. A defense that has been inconsistent at times completely stifled New York, allowing just 10 first downs and 227 total yards.

Pederson’s players seem eager to play a game with relatively little on the line other than getting the team to .500.

“It’s another opportunity to show who we are, to put our best foot forward …,” Lawrence said, “… to play another complete game, to keep the momentum we have. If go out there and lay an egg. , nobody feels good about that, especially going into the final week.”

Meanwhile, the Texans (2-12-1) will look to head into the offseason with momentum after snapping a nine-game losing streak last week. Houston has played better than its record suggests recently, nearly upsetting Dallas and Kansas City in its previous two games before finally getting the job done against Tennessee.

Houston trailed 14-13 before Davis Mills led a late drive, finding Brandin Cooks for a 6-yard touchdown pass with 2:52 left to give them their first win since a 13-6 decision on Oct. 9 in Jacksonville.

Mills and Jeff Driskel have formed a two-quarterback system over the last three weeks that has given the Texans their best production of the year. While they still rank 30th in the NFL at just 16.9 points per game, they have averaged 22 points in their last three games against three stout defenses.

Some think Houston needs to pick up the last two games and increase its chances of earning the No. 1 overall pick. 1 pick in next year’s NFL draft, but coach Lovie Smith isn’t interested in that logic.

“If you’re competing, you compete to win, right?” he asked. “Our last games are in our division. We want to eventually take the division. For us to have an opportunity to have a winning record in our division is very important to our guys.”

The Texans have won nine straight against the Jaguars, dating back to 2018.

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