JACKSONVILLE – Each week during the 2021 season, Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton, J.P. Shadrick and Ashlyn Sullivan – will analyze the following day's Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The Houston Texans at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They carry their momentum forward. They have plenty of momentum after firing Meyer. Interim Head Coach Darrell Bevell will turn to James Robinson, who should finally get 20 carries for the first time this season. Jacksonville has averaged just over nine points a game after their Week 7 bye. Look for 20 or more today.
The Texans will win if: They play well early. Houston has played better as of late early in games but hasn't been able to score in the second half. Running back Rex Burkhead is out, so the ground game will be reduced. Mills is coming of a 331-yard passing performance and must have success against the Jaguars passing defense.
As Ballou sees it: Jaguars fans will be rejuvenated and the team will play loose after Meyer's firing. Mistakes like false starts, holdings, etc., will surprisingly be eliminated. Jacksonville will snap its five-game game losing streak as it plays its best game of the season.
The Jaguars will win if:They get the run game going with James Robinson, and start fast so they can stick to the run. With Meyer gone hopefully Bevell will call more than seven run plays this week. If they commit to the run, they'll have success as an offense.
The Texans will win if: They start fast offensively, and stop the Jags run game, forcing the Jags to be one dimensional on offense.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
As Boselli sees it:Neither team can score with both averaging under 14 points per game, making them the two worst scoring offensives in the NFL. I think the Jaguars get a post-Meyer bump, score 17 points and win 17-13.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if: They generate a bit of offense. Their defense is better than the Houston offense led by Mills. But they must find some points. They also must, finally, run the ball. And stick to the run even if it struggles early. That probably is the biggest concern, and it is something they can control.
The Texans will win if: They get a lead early and get Jacksonville to bail on the run early, as the Jaguars have done before. Lawrence has struggled the most in second halves of games when the Jaguars have trailed and he has seemed to have to throw. That has become the recipe for disaster for Jacksonville. Houston will have some confidence in this game because of the result the first time the two teams played.
As Frangie sees it: This feels like a tossup: both teams playing rookie quarterbacks, both trying to find themselves, desperate for a win. It will come down to the fourth quarter and the team that makes the last big play will win.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if: Rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence has his best game of the season. I think the Jags will really force the run game and allow for the play action to be a part of the offense. A big game from Lawrence would mean a lot - maybe an early Christmas present for Jags fans.
The Texans will win if: They force three turnovers. The Jags committed four turnovers last week, but prior to that they had taken care of the football recently. Houston will need the benefit of turnovers on the road to pull off its third win of the season.
As Martineau sees it: I think this one will feel like a giant exhale. For the city, for the fans and for the players. There has been a lot to block out. Perhaps a new focus will lead to better play on the field. I think it will. The Jaguars will win, 27-16.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: They turn the relief players showed in the wake of the dismissal of Head Coach Urban Meyer into playing loose. The Jaguars also must run effectively and create turnovers defensively. It's rare they have done both in the game this season.
The Texans will win if: They force three or more takeaways. That was their formula earlier this month in a huge upset victory over the AFC South-leading Tennessee Titans, a game in which the Texans forced five takeaways. If the Texans get close to that, they can win in Jacksonville.
As Oehser sees it: Teams often play looser, freer and with more focus after dismissing a head coach late in the season. This feels like such a game for the Jaguars this week. This could be the first one-sided victory for the Jaguars in a looooooong time.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: They're plus-two or better. It's the same old story and that's the point. The Jaguars have only six takeaways this season – and during their current five-game losing streak, they have one interception and no fumble recoveries. They have 11 giveaways over that same five-game span. If they're plus-two, which they were when they beat the Buffalo Bills six weeks ago, they'll beat the Texans.
The Texans will win if: They're plus-two or better.
As Sexton sees it: This is the best chance the Jaguars will have to win before 2021 ends. I think they'll get it done against a Houston team that has traded away nearly every player of significance except wide receiver Brandin Cooks. The Texans are starting rookie Davis Mills over veteran Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. It's far from a slam dunk for a team that has been outscored 57-7 the last two games, but with its back to the wall Sunday, I think the Jaguars come out swinging.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com senior reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They take the ball away from the Texans at least twice and set up short fields for their offense. The Jaguars have not proven they can sustain drives and have been unable to consistently hit big, field-flipping plays down the field.
The Texans will win if: They maintain possession of the ball and finish in the end zone a couple times. Mills put up some numbers in a losing effort last time out, and if the Jags defense can stop the run, then defensive coordinator Joe Cullen will look to light him up with pressure – as Cullen does most weeks. How Mills handles it will go a long way.
As Shadrick sees it: The Jaguars have the better-performing defense, and might need to lean on that unit to make a few plays above three-and-out stops – a pick-six, sack/fumble, etc. This feels like a field-position game – and whoever makes more mistakes loses. I don't trust either team's offense as far as I can throw them right now. The noise around the Jaguars has been loud this week around the departure of Meyer; let's see if the team responds with their most spirited performance of the season.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Jaguars team reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They play for something. That sounds vague, but the energy was obvious at the facility and on the practice field this week. My confidence in this game totally shifted when the Jaguars made a coaching change Thursday. History tells us when there is a new head coach in the middle of the season, the team has a fresh perspective and plays for each other. I think that is exactly what will happen Sunday. This was already a winnable game, but I never felt like the Jaguars would win until this week. Seeing the players' freedom makes me think different.
The Texans will win if: They take away the Jaguars' running game. Even with fresh energy, the Jaguars still face offensive problems. Just last week, they rushed for a franchise-low eight yards. I doubt they suddenly will score thirty against the Texans. This offense still must rely on the running game. If the Texans take that away, the Jaguars will have trouble getting in the end zone.
As Sullivan sees it: This is the most confident I have felt about a Jaguars win all season. Players have talked about playing with a sense of appreciation this weekend and I have seen a new confidence around the team since Darrell Bevell became the interim head coach. The Jaguars now have something to prove on Sunday. The Jaguars will win on Sunday in front of their home fans.