NFL Wire News

Week 17 Preview: Jaguars at Texans

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Jacksonville Jaguars (3-12) at Houston Texans (8-7)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at NRG Stadium, Houston – TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Chris Myers, Ronde Barber, Jennifer Hale

*Keys to the game: Jaguars rookie QB Blake Bortles completed only 13 passes for 115 yards last week, but the backfield by committee provided the support he needed in the form of 177 yards on the ground. Jacksonville’s offensive line is a liability in protection but if it can be effective in the ground game, the Jaguars can again protect Bortles and allow him to manage the game.

With QB Case Keenum at the controls, the Texans’ offense flows through RB Arian Foster as normal. Keenum lacks the arm strength to scare defenses vertically, so expect the Jaguars to attack the line of scrimmage. Keenum completed less than 50 percent of his passes last week, but he did put it in the air 42 times in a game Houston led 16-0 at halftime, so the coaching staff isn’t afraid to let him test man coverage.

*Matchup to watch – Jaguars LT Luke Joeckel vs. Texans DE Jared Crick: Joeckel has been solid, but hardly elite in his second season. Crick is emerging as a solid bookend to J.J. Watt, including five tackles, two for losses, two quarterback hits, one pass deflection and a sack against Baltimore last week.

*Player spotlight – Jaguars DT Abry Jones: Starting in place of Roy Miller (knee), Jones plays an important role in limiting the Texans’ inside running game.

*Fast facts: Bortles has 2,791 passing yards, and needs 29 to break Byron Leftwich’s franchise rookie record. … Foster is averaging 101.9 rushing yards per game this season, second in the NFL to Dallas’ DeMarco Murray.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The Jaguars are fighting tooth and nail to the end, with two wins in the past four weeks and generally being competitive for long stretches of most games. That said, Houston’s defense can control the line of scrimmage and put Bortles in tough down-and-distances that ultimately lead to turnovers.

*Our pick: Texans 16-13


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