JACKSONVILLE – Each Saturday during the 2019 season, nine Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton, J.P. Shadrick and Ashlyn Sullivan – will break down the following day's Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if:They can run the ball. Houston will blitz Jaguars rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II from all over the field and force him to throw outside the numbers. The Jaguars must be able to take the pressure off him and run running back Leonard Fournette at least 20 times.
The Texans will win if:They use Kansas City's blueprint by attacking the Jaguars in the air. Last Sunday, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes put on a clinic and Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has similar offensive weapons. Watson can also beat you with his feet. If the Jaguars don't fix their coverage, it could be a long afternoon.
As Ballou sees it:This is a rough first start for Minshew. Houston is going to do its best to bounce back defensively after losing on the last play Monday night. The Jags will clean up a lot of things defensively, but Houston will get the victory.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
1. The Jaguars will win if:The defense plays as capable. The Jaguars can't have the blown assignments and missed tackles that led to numerous big plays against the Chiefs. Pressuring Watson like the Saints did last week will be key in slowing a potent Texans offense. On offense, Minshew doesn't need to have the performance he had versus the Chiefs, but he can't turn the ball over to give the Texans extra possessions.
2. The Texans will win if:They protect Watson and stop the Jaguars' run offense. Watson is one of the best young quarterbacks in the game; if he has time, he will find one of his many weapons and hurt the Jaguars. On defense, if the Texans stop the run and make the Jaguars one-dimensional, they will make it a long day for Minshew in his first NFL start.
3 .As Boselli sees it:The Jaguars' defense will respond in a positive way to the challenge of the Texans' dynamic offense after a really poor performance opening weekend. I think they will hit Watson and limit the Texans to 17 points. Minshew is not going to have a great game like he did Week 1, but he will do enough and with a huge performance from Fournette, the Jags will put 20 points on the board. Prediction: Jaguars 20 Texans 17.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if:If they can generate early offense with Minshew. That's critical because it will determine if the offense can play with confidence behind the rookie quarterback. The Jaguars' defense is tough to play against when behind. Also, Watson takes a bunch of sacks; the Jaguars' pass rush needs to set the tone early.
The Texans will win if:If they protect Watson – and if he gets the ball out quickly, which isn't his strength. They also need to harass Minshew early and keep the Jags from getting any confidence or momentum offensively.
As Frangie sees it:The Jaguars got the ultimate tough break. What are the chances the newly-acquired franchise quarterback gets hurt 11 plays in? I think they can win behind Minshew; he was poised, tough and accurate when called upon. But it will be tough against the Texans' defense on the road and in his first NFL start.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if:The defense plays as expected and takes the ball away from the Texans. The offensive line in Houston is still struggling and the new acquisition of left tackle Laremy Tunsil has yet to prove worth the cost. Watson will also hold onto the ball giving opportunities to a Jaguars defense looking to bounce back.
The Texans will win if:They make Minshew look like a rookie quarterback making his first career start in a hostile environment. Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel will dial up plenty of creative pressure packages to find out if the Jaguars' offensive line can keep their young quarterback clean and if Minshew can handle the pressure of being "the man".
As Lageman sees it:This is a tough one for the Jaguars with the rookie Minshew at the helm. The Texans are playing on a short week, but they are at home and looking to take out the frustration of a road loss to the Saints on the Jaguars. The Texans' running game may keep the Jaguars' defense off balance.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if:They can stop the explosive plays. This isn't much different than the recipe to beating Kansas City and the Jags were not good in that department a week ago. Watson can beat teams with his arm and legs, so if the Jaguars give up big plays it will be a long day again.
The Texans will win if:They score more than 24 points. I think the Jaguars offense is still capable under Minshew, but it will be tough to go up and down the field like the Jaguars did against the Chiefs. If Houston has the output it had on Monday night against New Orleans, the Texans will beat the Jaguars.
As Martineau sees it:This might be shame on me, but I think people hype Houston too much. While there's magic in Watson, the Texans have a terrible offensive line and I'm starting to wonder just how good their defense is right now. Sure, the Jaguars have a lot of question marks, too. This is a 50/50 game for me. Let's ride Minshew Mania to a victory Sunday.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if:The defense indeed is elite. If the defense is as good as advertised – as opposed to the careless, sloppy Week 1 version – the Jaguars can win this game. That means covering the Texans' skill players long enough for the pass rush to win a winnable matchup with the Texans' offensive line.
The Texans will win if:They make Minshew Mania disappear. Minshew played admirably last week, and the Texans' secondary has been suspect since midway through last season. If the Texans make Minshew look like what he is – a Round 6 rookie making his first NFL start – that's bad for the Jaguars.
As Oehser sees it:The Jaguars certainly can win this game, but it's a tough task. And as noted above, there are a lot of "ifs." The thought here is the Jaguars' defense will play better than a week ago, but a victory over the Texans' high-powered offense – and a road victory at that – will be too tough a challenge.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if:Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey can take Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins out of the game. Hopkins is currently the NFL's most difficult match-up with his height, length and leaping ability. Plus, he is a top competitor when the ball is in the air. Watson targeted him 13 times in New Orleans Monday, and Hopkins caught eight passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns. By comparison, Texans wide receivers Kenny Stills and Will Fuller were targeted a combined six times. Outside of Watson, no one else on the Texans' offense should scare this Jacksonville defense. It's an ask worthy of a guy who shows up to training camp in a Brinks truck.
The Texans will win if:They force Minshew to carry the Jaguars. If Houston shuts down the Jaguars' running game and Minshew must throw more than 25-to-30 times, history says the rookie will throw a couple of ill-advised passes – maybe even a pick-six. It's hard to stand in the pocket in that building with defensive end J.J. Watt chasing you all over the field. If the Jaguars can't run, they're dead in the water.
As Sexton sees it:There are some games that you just know one team can't win. This isn't one of those. The Jaguars' defense is capable of shutting down the Texans, and we saw last week that this Jaguars offense isn't same group that could barely move the football last season. I just don't know how anyone can pick the Jaguars to win after last week's woeful performance, so I won't. I think the Texans drop them to 0-2 and put them in a deep hole with Tennessee in town on a short week.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if:They play much better on defense. I get the Chiefs are the Chiefs, but there were players running WIDE open last week through the secondary on multiple occasions and missed tackles on more than one occasion. This is a big week for this group to prove they are the elite unit they say – and we've seen – they are. Oh, and stay composed if things do not go well early, please.
The Texans will win if:They force Minshew into mistakes. Minshew played well last week, Minshew is intelligent, Minshew walks and talks confidently… but Minshew is still a rookie. Good things could continue to happen for him, but bad things will happen at some point. If the Texans can plug up the Jaguars' run game and put it in the hands of Minshew, they must feel that would be their best option.
As Shadrick sees it:Considering everything that happened last week, this game is as close to a must-win as you can find this early in the season. Play better and composed on defense, continue to find a way on offense to rally around a rookie quarterback and go win a division game on the road. A 1-1 record next week keeps everything on track. An 0-2 record feels much worse than the record would indicate.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
The Jaguars will win if:The defense can take advantage of a struggling Texans offensive line. Houston allowed Watson to be sacked six times against the Saints. The Jaguars didn't sack Mahomes once in their loss to the Chiefs. The Jags defensive line needs to get back to their Sacksonville ways to give them a chance to win.
The Texans will win if:The stage becomes too big for Minshew. No one expected Minshew to come into last week's game and go 22 of 25 and finish with a passer rating of 122. No one is expecting that to happen again this week. Minshew will have to hold his own and do the small things well to put points on the board.
As Sullivan sees it:The Jaguars have a solid chance to win this game – but they are going to have to do two things well. The defense is going to have to get its personality back and play as a unit instead of everyone trying to make big plays. The offense is going to have to help Minshew out; you no longer have Nick Foles to bail you out if you drop a ball or miss a block. Everyone is going to have to do their job in order to win on Sunday.