JACKSONVILLE – Each Saturday during the 2017 season, eight Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton and J.P. Shadrick – will break down the following day's Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The Houston Texans at EverBank Field.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter The Jaguars will win: If they get half of the production from the defense they did in the opener in Houston, where the Jaguars had 10 sacks and forced four turnovers.
The Texans will win: By catching Jacksonville with a hangover after an emotional victory over Seattle.
As Ballou sees it: Jaguars, 28-7. Houston is beaten up and is starting its third quarterback. The Jags know if they win they clinch a playoff berth.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if:They just keep doing what they are doing. They are by far the better team. They rediscovered the running game now that the offensive line is back together. And wide receivers are making plays down the field. Take care of the ball and this one shouldn't be all that close.
The Texans will win if:They play a perfect game. They are so beat up that it will be a difficult challenge for them. They can't make any mistakes, and have to find a way to protect quarterback T. J. Yates; he will have to get the ball out quick. The Texans have to force some turnovers.
As Frangie sees it: As long as the Jaguars play as they've been playing, they should win comfortably.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if:Their offensive line plays like it did last week against Seattle. The line was outstanding in the run and pass game. The Jaguars have a big challenge blocking Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney this week; he is a fantastic player that the Texans move around, making it difficult to game plan for his location. Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles is playing very well; as long as he has a pocket like last week his success will continue.
The Texans will win if:They can force three turnovers. They are playing Yates, who will get his first start of the season after signing with the team in early November. The Texans have had some trouble finding their ground game recently, which puts even more pressure on a new quarterback who definitely had zero trouble last week getting the ball to arguably the best wide receiver in football.
As Lageman sees it:The Jaguars' defense is just an overwhelming matchup for the Texans and a new quarterback. Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien is an outstanding coach, but this year is just not the Texans' year with all the injuries that have occurred to their roster.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if:If they do what they do. They are clearly the better team against the beat-up Texans, but it's hard to ignore the success the Texans have had against the Jags. This won't be a 10-sack performance again for the Jaguars, but it still should be a dominating defense against Yates. If the Jags don't turn the ball over, this game shouldn't be a problem.
The Texans will win if: The Texans will win if this defense dominates and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has a great day against Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey. These two rivals love to talk about their games and battles, but Hopkins will have to have a spectacular day to give Houston a chance at EverBank Field.
As Martineau sees it:The Jaguars are going to win, but this is the NFL and it won't be easy. The Jags will clinch their first playoff berth in a decade and do it front of the home fans. My curiosity is to see how much Bortles is growing in the second half of the season. Houston has been a tough opponent for Bortles and staying consistent is important for this team moving toward the postseason.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if:they simply play a clean, smart game. They do not need to do anything special. With all of the injuries to the Texans, the Jags are the better team by a wide margin.
The Texans will win if:if they can catch the Jags sleeping early and create turnovers. They need short fields to score and will have to make things happen on special teams. Toe to toe, they do not have a chance in this game. They will need the ball bounce their way a couple of times to have a chance.
As Boselli sees it:With a playoff berth on the line, I believe the Jaguars will come out strong and dominate the game from the beginning. This is a game they will by three touchdowns, 31-10.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if:They play sound defense and don't turn the ball over. That's an obvious formula, but the one concern for the Jaguars in recent weeks has been a tendency to allow big plays. The defense has allowed six touchdowns on explosive plays in three games. Hopkins is capable of such plays, but Ramsey should be able to take them away.
The Texans will win if:They can force turnovers. Clowney can wreck a game by himself. That's because he can force fumbles and interceptions. If the Jaguars keep Clowney from total disruption of their backfield, this game shouldn't be in doubt late.
As Oehser sees it:This is a game the Jaguars need to win to make the postseason. The guess here is the Texans make it close for a while and the Jaguars pull away. That's how young teams often clinch the first postseason berth, and this one has that close-and-pull-away feel.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if:They can protect the football. Let's face it: the Jaguars are a much better team, playing at a much higher level than the Texans as we head into the home stretch. The Jaguars ran the ball and pounded the quarterback in Week 1 and they've only gotten better in those two important categories since. Mix in Bortles looking like a playoff-caliber quarterback the last few weeks and you have a complete team. If the Jaguars don't give the Texans' third quarterback of the season a few easy shots to Hopkins, the Texans aren't likely to earn them the hard way. Protect the football and lock up a spot in the playoffs.
The Texans will win if:The Texans will win if. J.J. Watt dominates the line of scrimmage, Whitney Mercilus bedevils rookie left tackle Cam Robinson and DeShaun Watson keeps slinging the ball all over the yard.
As Sexton sees it:This is more of a statement game for the Jaguars than last week's game against the Seahawks. Can the Jaguars rebound from an emotional win last Sunday and focus on the Texans and the opportunity to lock-up a playoff spot and take a step closer to their goal of the AFC South title? They're a young team, and even though this isn't the Texans team they thought they'd be battling for the South title this year, they have to approach this game as if they still had Watt, Mercilus and Watson. If the Jaguars are focused, this game isn't even close.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if:They rush the passer against the Texans anywhere close to how they did in Week 1 – also, if they can keep the running game going like they had last week or in Week 1.
The Texans will win if: They take the ball away three or more times and Yates throws three touchdowns. I wouldn't bet the farm on that.
As Shadrick sees it:For the Jaguars, a win secures a playoff berth … then we can all party like it's 2007. Sign me up for both.