In Week 17, Jacksonville travels to Houston to face the Texans at NRG Stadium at 1 p.m. EST. This week’s regular season finale will be broadcast regionally on CBS, locally on WJAX-47. Here are five stats surrounding Sunday’s matchup:
We Can Score, Too: LB Telvin Smith Sr. notched the third pick six of his career in the Jaguars’ Week 16 victory against Miami, becoming the first LB in franchise history to return three INTs for TDs and second overall player (CB Rashean Mathis) to accomplish the feat in franchise history. The score marked the second defensive TD for the Jaguars this season after LB Myles Jack returned an INT 32 yards for a score against the Giants in Week 1. Smith’s scamper was the team’s ninth defensive score since the beginning of 2017, tied with Chicago for the NFL’s most. “Today was just big plays,” Smith said following the win. “I saw the sack [by DL Calais Campbell] about to go down and I saw [Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill’s] eyes get big.” Smith, who now has four defensive TDs in his career, and Jack are the first LB duo in Jaguars history to each score TDs in the same season.
Return Threat: A week after taking a punt 74 yards for a score against Washington in Week 15, WR Dede Westbrook nearly returned another TD to close the half against Miami when he took a punt 44 yards before getting tackled with four seconds remaining in the half. Westbrook’s 15.6 punt return avg. is the highest among players in the NFL this season with at least 15 returns and he could become the second Jaguar in franchise history (WR Rashad Greene Sr., 16.7 avg. in 2015) to average at least 15.0 yards per attempt with at least two punt returns. Westbrook is also the Jaguars leading receiver (707 yards) and has rushed nine times for 98 yards.
Smooth Sailing: On Wednesday, Head Coach Doug Marrone named QB Blake Bortles the starting QB for Week 17, citing Bortles’ mobility as a key factor in his decision. Bortles was inserted in the third quarter of the team’s Week 16 win at Miami and led a pair of 10-play, game-clinching fourth quarter drives. “I thought we could get some juice with Blake going in there running the zone read, which we did,” Marrone said following the game. Bortles has been extremely effective on the ground in 2018 and has 54 rushing attempts for 350 yards and a 6.48 rushing average, which is the second-highest in the NFL among players with at least 50 rushing attempts this season.
Behind the Line: DL Calais Campbell surpassed his single-season career-high of 16 tackles for loss in Jacksonville’s Week 15 game against Washington and added to his TFL total with two more against Miami last week. Campbell, who has posted a sack in back-to-back games, notched a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the same game for the first time in his 11-year career when he forcibly removed the ball from Dolphins RB Brandon Bolden’s graspin the third quarter. “I got the question last week about do you think [Campbell] should have been in the Pro Bowl? Absolutely,” Marrone said following the game. “I think anyone that has children and they want to aspire to be the greatest they can be, and if they're looking for someone to be a role model, I would say it should be Calais.” Campbell’s 19 TFLs are tied for fourth in the NFL and he is 1.0 sack shy from recording at least 10.0 sacks for the second consecutive season. Campbell recorded a single-game franchise-record 4.0 sacks when he last played at NRG Stadium in Week 1 of the 2017 season.
Air Traffic Controllers: In the Jaguars last three games against the Texans, Jacksonville has held Houston to an average of 113.3 net passing yards per game, including 131 net passing yards in Week 7 this season. Texans QB Deshaun Watson threw for a season-low 139 yards against Jacksonville on Oct. 21, while Houston’s No. 1 receiver and three-time Pro Bowler DeAndre Hopkins’ 50 receiving yards were his second-lowest total of the 2018 season. All eyes will be on the matchup between Hopkins and Pro Bowl CB Jalen Ramsey, and the entire Jaguars passing defense looks to continue their stingy play (193.7 net passing yards allowed per game) in their final game of the season.
Every Friday during the 2018 season, Jaguars Public Relations Assistant David Wolf will write five key stats about the Jaguars’ upcoming game. A Chapel Hill, N.C. native, Wolf joined the Jacksonville Jaguars in May 2018.