One of the reasons NFL football is the most popular sport in America is that there is so much parity in the league.
Because of this parity, random, fluky turnovers have so much influence on the results of games that, really, the cliché “any given Sunday” is quite true.
Sometimes, though, you have games like Houston Texans 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 7 that play out exactly the way you’d expect them to, from kickoff to final whistle, as though the whole thing were a computer simulation.
You know a team doesn’t respect you when it doesn’t break out anything remotely exotic from the playbook, and indeed the Texans treated the Jaguars very much like a preseason opponent, perfectly willing to run the ball a hundred times—well, 48—chew up the clock to the tune of 43 minutes and 17 seconds of possession, and save the fireworks with Andre Johnson and company for another day.
Arian Foster and Ben Tate combined for 50 touches, 244 yards and three scores. Jacksonville’s entire offense mustered 117 yards (with minus-four yards passing at half) and one touchdown.
Houston is the AFC’s answer to the San Francisco 49ers. The Texans bully teams on both sides of the ball, dominate the line of scrimmage, turn you one dimensional on offense and frustrate your defense with play-action passes.
Would it surprise anyone if those two teams met in the Super Bowl?
Hell, the Texans even have a Justin Smith doppelganger (albeit a younger, cheaper version) in J.J. Watt, who’s just a monster, tossing around Jaguars linemen with ease and being in on two sacks of the beleaguered Blaine Gabbert.
You had to feel for Gabbert in the game. He had guys in his face all afternoon—well, in what little time he was on the field, anyway—and aside from a couple consecutive tosses in the third quarter, he never really got to set his feet and look downfield. Everything was either a checkdown, an inaccurate fling on the move or a pass batted back in his face.
The Jaguars are seriously lacking in talent, especially in playmakers on defense, but I thought they at least got some wideouts for Gabbert in the offseason in Laurent Robinson and Justin Blackmon. Well, I didn’t see those guys get any separation against the Texans.
It’s going to be a long year for the Jags. And a long season for the Texans, too, I think, though in a different, definitely more satisfying way.