The Houston Texans look to rebound after such a heartbreaking loss to the New Orleans Saints on Monday night (30 -28) in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Houston will take on AFC South divisional rival, Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at NRG Stadium in their first home game of the 2019 NFL season. The Texans look to make it three- straight against the Jags after winning the last two meetings (20-7, 20-3).
Texans wide receiver, DeAndre Hopkins was very instrumental in defeating Jacksonville in the Week 17 matchup in 2018. The All-Pro wide receiver had a career high 12 receptions for 147 yards against Jalen Ramsey who was selected as an All-Pro as well in 2018. Their matchup tends to bring a lot of on the field trash talking, but each player has mutual respect for one another.
“You have two great players who really play the game well,” said Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone when asked about the Hopkins versus Ramsey matchup. “They both have a lot of confidence and step their games up each week. I think that’s something everyone enjoys seeing when two competitors go after each other.”
After being burned for over 500 total yards (362 passing) on Monday, the Texans defense will be looking to cause major confusion for backup quarterback Gardner Minshew II who replaced Nick Foles after he went down in in the first quarter of last week’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The sixth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Washington State passed for 275 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.
“He played really well,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said in his weekly press conference about the Jags rookie quarterback. “He was very accurate and got the ball out on time. He had a couple of shock plays by throwing the ball deep down the field. He has a real good understanding of the offense.”
It will be left up to veteran players on the defensive side of the ball like Whitney Mercilus who had an outstanding game in a Week 7 victory over the Jags in 2018. He recorded a career-high two forced fumbles and four solo tackles to go along with a sack and two quarterback hits.
The absence of former All-Pro defensive end/outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, who is now with the Seattle Seahawks, may have caused a systemic shift on the defensive side of the ball. For the first time in over 105 games, defensive lineman J.J. Watt didn’t record a sack or tackle in Monday night’s loss to the Saints. The 2018 All-Pro took all the blame for the collapse of the defense in the second half of that game and promised the fans that he would do better next time out.
“As the leader on defense, I take that 100 percent on my shoulders,” said Watt.
Watt will look to bounce back against Jacksonville as he has had great success against them over his career. In 13 games, he has 16 sacks, 10 pass deflections, and three forced fumbles.
A victory over the Jaguars would help the Texans start their quest to repeat as AFC South Champs and put them back on the right track towards the playoffs.