Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jacksonville Game Preview

Evan Reier@@evanreierCorrespondent IOctober 15, 2015

Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jacksonville Game Preview

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans are entering Week 5 with 1-4 records and a desperate need for a win. Both have thrown away potential wins this season, but an AFC South divisional win could do a lot to pick up their spirits.

    The Jaguars are coming off two losses that may end up setting the tone for the season, but a win at home against the Texans could help the team regain composure and get over their numerous errors and mistakes.

    The winner of Sunday's matchup will take third place in the AFC South outright, which may not seem like much, but considering that fellow AFC South members Tennessee Titans have to play the Miami Dolphins and the Atlanta Falcons in the coming weeks, there is ground to be gained with a win on Sunday. 

    This is the third consecutive week that the Jaguars are playing a team with an equal record, and they've the first two in discouraging fashion. If they want to prove they are getting better and that head coach Gus Bradley can be the one to get wins out of this team, it will start with a win on Sunday.

    Location: Everbank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.

    Time: 1 p.m. ET

    TV: CBS (Local)

Week 5 Results and Recap

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Over 2,000 Jaguars fans traveled to Tampa for a "Tampa Bay Takeover," but the fans' trip was met with a poor result. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Jaguars 38-31, mostly thanks to poor errors on offense and special teams and an inability to force turnovers on defense.

    The major bright spot from Sunday's game was quarterback Blake Bortles' 303-yard day, in which he threw four touchdowns, one interception and earned an impressive 125.4 rating. 

    Bortles was the offense's driving force, and his play was the key factor that kept the Jaguars in the game. However, his interception to give the Buccaneers great field position, along with two punts returned into Jaguars territory, gave Tampa Bay a short field on three separate occasions.

    This is not to mention running back Corey Grant's fumble inside the Jaguars' 20, which was recovered for another touchdown.

    The Jaguars had a bit of a meltdown after going up 24-20 and walked away in frustration. Week 5 was thought of as a good opportunity to earn a win, but the Jaguars failed to do so.

News and Notes

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    Brian Blanco/Associated Press

    Jaguars Fans Travel in Large Numbers to Tampa Bay

    The aforementioned 2,000-plus fans who went to Tampa deserve a specific shoutout. Most NFL teams don't travel incredibly well—and understandably so. It's even more expensive, time-consuming and difficult to go on the road, but plenty of fans made the trip with little to no hesitation.

    Most fans came as part of Bold City Brigade's "Tampa Bay Takeover" and attended their massive tailgate coming up to the game. "Duval" was being yelled with pride and heart, but not even the presence of thousands of fans could get the Jaguars a win.

    It was an incredible event to be a part of, and watching that many Jaguars fans take the road and cheer on a struggling team on the road was a great experience.

    Blake Bortles' career-high Four TDs a First Since 2012

    The last time the Jaguars had a QB throw four touchdowns, it was Chad Henne in a heartbreaking 37-43 overtime loss to the Texans. That was in November 2012, but Bortles' Week 5 performance helped put an end to that streak.

    It was the first time Bortles has thrown three TDs or more as a Jaguar, and it was easily his best performance in the uniform. With Sunday's stats in the book, Bortles now has 10 touchdowns and four interceptions, already an incredible improvement on last season's total of 11 TDs and 17 picks.

    Bortles is on pace to easily shatter the Jaguars' single-season passing touchdown record of 23, set by David Garrard in 2010. If he puts in a similar performance to Week 5's this Sunday, he'll be halfway or better to the record through six games.

Latest Injury News

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press
    Blake BortlesQBShoulder
    Sen'Derrick MarksDTKnee
    T.J. YeldonRBGroin
    Abry JonesDTKnee
    Allen HurnsWRAnkle/Thigh
    Denard RobinsonRBKnee
    Julius ThomasTEHand
    Bernard PierceRBConcussion/Hamstring
    Paul PoslusznyLBAnkle
    Sam YoungOTIllness
    Aaron ColvinCBShoulder
    Davon HouseCBHip Contusion
    Jermey ParnellOTKnee
    Marqise LeeWRHamstring
    James SampleSShoulder

    (All information courtesy of Jaguars.com's Injury Report)

    It isn't as bad as it looks. In fact, center Luke Bowanko and defensive end Chris Clemons are also listed, but with a stinger and a day of rest, respectively. Despite the 17 total players listed on the injury report, the Jaguars are actually getting closer to full health.

    Marks, Robinson, Thomas, Bortles and Colvin all practiced in full, while House, Bowanko and Young practiced in a limited fashion. The remaining nine did not practice, but that is likely to give them an extra day of rest to recover from last Sunday.

    Personally, it seems like pretty much everyone on this list will play Sunday, save for Lee and possibly Pierce and Posluszny. "Poz" is a big factor, but considering he was listed as "questionable" coming into last Sunday, it seems very possible that he will see the field Sunday.

Key Matchups

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Jaguars Offensive Line vs. Texans Defensive Front

    The Jaguars let up a season-high six sacks in Week 5, and if they play that leaky against the Texans, defensive tackle J.J. Watt and the rest of their defensive line will have a field day.

    However, they've only totaled six games themselves, so it could be an easier test than the Jaguars initially anticipated. While protecting Bortles will be crucial, the offensive line also needs to open up holes for Yeldon and the RBs.

    The Texans rank 22nd in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing 114.2 yards a game so far. Opening up the offense with the run game starts with the offensive line, and its play will be vital to offensive success.

    Jaguars Secondary vs. DeAndre Hopkins and the Texans WRs

    Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins will be a major threat on Sunday, as he looks to continue his stellar season. He's already racked up 578 yards and three touchdowns, and it will be huge if corners House and Colvin stop him from a big day.

    Nate Washington and former Jaguar Cecil Shorts III will be the other receivers the Jaguars will have to look out for. While House or Colvin is dealing with Hopkins, CBs Dwayne Gratz and Demetrius McCray will need to shut down the Texans' second and third receiver.

    The Jaguars' pass rush hasn't been able to cause chaos this season, and that means the secondary will have to be on top of their game. The Texans offense is averaging an NFL fourth-best 300 yards a game through the air a game, so it should be a significant test for the secondary.

X-Factor: Sen'Derrick Marks

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    Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

    Being an "X-factor" typically implies a player who's varying performance will be a difference-maker. Last season, Marks was more of a consistent playmaker, but in his first game since his ACL tear in 2014, he is the Jaguars' Week 6 X-factor.

    Entering his third season with the Jaguars, Marks is coming off 8.5 sacks and a remarkable first two years as a Jaguar. He's consistently been the defensive line's best player, and having his presence back should do a lot for the defensive front.

    It was thought that Marks could've made it back by Week 1, but that obviously hasn't happened; the Jaguars took a more cautious route instead. Playing it safe is always the best move for knee injuries, and hopefully that will mean Marks will come back at near full-force.

    It may take a game or two for the gears to get moving again, but with a force like Marks, it could come as quickly as the first snap on Sunday. The Jaguars have one of their top players back, and that could mean a difficult day for the Texans' offensive line. 

Prediction: Texans 13, Jaguars 24

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    The Jaguars are playing an opponent with the same record for the third consecutive week, but the difference this week is that the Jaguars finally return to Everbank. While that may not make a difference if the Jaguars haven't gotten over their errors, it is even more reason they should win.

    The only way to break their slump is to simply win. That may sound vague, but considering the various problems over the past few weeks, the Jaguars have to put it together and win. 

    Bortles putting in another great performance would certainly go a long way, but last week showed that a good day from the QB doesn't guarantee a win. The same goes for the defense, which has performed relatively well in three of the first five games, but couldn't get wins in two of them.

    If the Jaguars want to salvage the season, they have to win this weekend. The schedule only gets tougher from here, and that means the crucial errors won't just keep them from competing in games, but it will result in bigger losing margins.

    It's now do or die for the 2015 season. The Jaguars can still put together a positive season, but they have to grow past the past couple of weeks and learn how to finish.

    Prediction: Texans 13, Jaguars 24

    All stats provided by ESPN.com unless otherwise stated.

    Evan Reier is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report covering the Jacksonville Jaguars. Follow Evan on Twitter @evanreier.


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