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 Wembley Stadium in London.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They get pressure on Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Jaguars had eight sacks last week against the Jets and forced three turnovers. Houston's offensive line is beat up, which sets up beautifully for Sacksonville.
The Texans will win if: They hold Jacksonville to field goals. Houston scores a lot, but also gives up many points. If it's that type of game, the Jaguars need to get touchdowns.
As Ballou sees it: Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II will take advantage of the depleted Houston secondary and throw for three touchdowns as the Jaguars win their third consecutive game before the bye.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if: They can run early and exploit through play-action a beat-up, average secondary. There will be opportunities for Minshew and the young Jaguars wide receivers for big plays because of the issues in the Texans secondary. But the Jaguars' offense is still at its best when running back Leonard Fournette has success on the ground – and finishing drives will be critical for the Jaguars' offense. They can't afford to settle for field goals in the red zone. Defensively, the Jaguars cannot allow Texans running back Carlos Hyde to have a big day rushing. They must keep Watson and the Texans' offense behind the chains and let the defensive line get after an average offensive line.
The Texans will win if: They have balance offensively and play with a lead. The Jaguars' defense has been great with the lead, so the Texans must get Hyde going and find an early score. This will keep the Jaguars' defense honest and slow the pass rush. Defensively, the Texans must get to Minshew early. They don't want him comfortable and playing in a rhythm. If the Texans can take away Fournette and force Minshew to execute in long down-and-distances, that will be to their advantage.
As Boselli sees it: The Jaguars are playing in their second home and will roll into the bye week with a victory. Let's not forget: They were a two-point conversion from beating the Texans Week 2 in Houston, and that was Minshew's first start. Two defensive stars who played in the first game will miss this one, with Texans defensive end J.J. Watt out for the year with pectoral injury and former Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey now playing for the Los Angeles Rams. Both offenses will find it a little easier because of their absences. Look for a higher-scoring affair then the first matchup. The Jaguars will win, 31-24.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if: They start fast, as Houston gets acclimated to how the game in London is different – the field a bit slippery, etc. The Jaguars must score early and get Fournette involved early. And they must harass Watson. He tends to hold the ball, but he also makes big plays. The Jaguars must get an early takeaway, and Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye must play well if he's matched often against Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
The Texans will win if: If they keep it close early and get adjusted to the setting. Teams playing at Wembley for the first time can get intimidated and feel out of sorts and wind up trailing early in the game. They also must contain Fournette.
As Frangie sees it: This one will be closer than some think. The Texans are very good and could slow the momentum the Jaguars' clearly are building. The key for Jacksonville is get off to a good start and the Jaguars should be fine.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: They control Watson, a legitimate Most Valuable Player candidate. Watson is a threat with both his arms and legs, presenting a unique challenge. The Jaguars have done a great job over the last three weeks limiting running backs' success and must continue to do so in order to put as much pressure as possible on Watson.
The Texans will win if: They run effectively, allowing Watson and Hopkins to move the sticks on manageable down and distances. The Texans' offensive line has some issues and needs a strong running game to hold off the Jaguars' strong pass rushers.
As Lageman sees it: The Texans have some issues. Injuries in the secondary, Watt on injured reserve and linebacker Jadeveon Clowney traded to Seattle earlier in the season leaves them without many playmakers on defense. Fournette will have a workman-like day, allowing Minshew and the receiving corps to take advantage and make the looming quarterback decision one to look forward to. The Jaguars' experience of traveling to London is a huge advantage. This Jaguars victory will make the upcoming division games huge in the race for the AFC South title.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if: They score 27 or more points. Houston can score; the Jags can, too. The Jaguars must finish in the red zone with more efficiency and not waste opportunities with field goals instead of touchdowns. If they do, they likely will play from ahead and create turnovers.
The Texans will win if: They keep Minshew in the pocket. The only team that really has been able to do that is New Orleans. Minshew has been magical extending plays and the receivers have made big plays because of it. The Jaguars are hitting on a lot of explosive plays and Minshew has been turning nothing into something. Expect a game plan from Houston to keep Minshew trapped in the pocket.
As Martineau sees it: I think the Jaguars are going to win this one. I'm not a big believer in the London experience, but it might count for something. The Jags have a good vibe and are playing good football. They also still have plays to be made. This would be a huge victory for the Jaguars. It's going to be close, but I think the Jags will win 30-24.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: The offense and Minshew play well against a beat-up Texans defense early. If they do that, they will get the lead that this defense needs to play its style. That style? An offense-wrecking pass rush capable of dominating any line in the NFL – and capable of pressuring Watson into a difficult day on the slick Wembley pitch.
The Texans will win if: They run effectively with Hyde. That could be enough to keep the Jaguars' defense from getting into pass-rush mode. The Jaguars' defense has thwarted the running games of the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets the last two weeks. Doing so against the Texans will be a tougher task.
As Oehser sees it: The Jaguars will win Sunday and move firmly into the AFC postseason conversation. The key is getting a lead. If the Jaguars do that, the matchup of the Jacksonville defensive front versus a beat-up Texans front should give the Jaguars enough of an edge to win.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: They can cover Hopkins. I don't expect they will shut him down entirely. He likely will manage eight to 10 receptions, but if they can keep him from 150 yards and two touchdowns it would go a long way towards the victory. Ramsey held him to just 13 yards in man coverage in Week 2, and taking him out of the game was a big reason why the Jaguars were able to mount a fourth quarter comeback. Watson doesn't look like the same guy when Hopkins isn't a factor, so the Jaguars must find a way to double him or triple him – or something – to hold him in check.
The Texans will win if: They can cover the Jaguars' receivers. Not that any of them have earned the kind of attention Hopkins receives, but the Texans' secondary is a shell of itself because of injuries – and Watt's absence will mean more time for Minshew in the pocket. If Houston can keep Jaguars wide receivers DJ Chark Jr. and Chris Conley from the kind of big plays they made last week, it would go a long way.
As Sexton sees it: Wembley Stadium is a distinct advantage for the Jaguars. The Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens all know – and the Philadelphia Eagles might have learned last season if Chark had held a potential touchdown pass in the end zone in the fourth. This is the Texans' first trip to London, and it isn't easy for first-timers. You can see players struggling to get their legs moving early in the game. That isn't a problem for the Jaguars, who have the trip down to a science thanks to six previous visits. The Jaguars will win a close one this time.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if: They can get an early lead, let the defense consistently pressure and hit Watson. He is playing at a high level; if he has time and is comfortable, then the pressure ramps up on the Jaguars' secondary to cover the Texans' deep receiver corps. A couple of takeaways would be nice as well.
The Texans will win if: They force takeaways from Minshew. The rookie has made great decisions for the most part down the field this season, throwing only two interceptions – but he has fumbled nine times with five lost fumbles. If the Texans clog the Jaguars running game with Fournette, then it will fall into Minshew's hands. How he responds on the big stage is the question, but he hasn't flinched anywhere yet.
As Shadrick sees it: It's easily the biggest game in Minshew's young NFL career. If the Jaguars fall behind 0-2 to the Texans in the division race, the hill will get even bigger to climb. If they win this one, the next two division games are looming after the bye week with a chance to take control of the division. This is a huge swing game at a familiar place in Wembley Stadium. The Jaguars must take advantage of the home field.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
The Jaguars will win if: The defensive line pressures Watson and the secondary contains Hopkins. I am confident the Jaguars' offense will score enough to win; I question if the defense can do enough to keep Watson out of the end zone. Jacksonville's secondary is in for a big test against the Texans. If the Jaguars can win that battle, they will come home from London with a victory.
The Texans will win if: They can overcome the loss of Watt and eliminate the Jaguars' running game. The Texans have gone 24 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher. I would guess it will be a tough day to get Fournette going with that statistics, but how much does the absence of Watt hurt the Texans' run defense?
As Sullivan sees it: This is the toughest matchup of the year for the Jaguars – but once again, it's a must-win game. The Texans and Jaguars are two completely different teams than we saw in Week 2. The Texans' secondary is beat up; I expect Minshew to have a great day and to get multiple receivers involved. The Jaguars will win this game because they are the healthier team.