This is it, one last game for the Jaguars to pull off a win, tanking be damned. If you want to know why I abhor tanking, READ HERE. This is also the last ditch effort for our three divisional teams to make the play-offs or move up in seeding. Here’s the AFCS Week 17 game previews – TV areas, stats, injury reports, & passing charts.
Jaguars (5-10) vs Texans (10-5) CBS
As usual, here’s the refs which I include because we should keep track of the crap since the NFL doesn’t seem to care.
Sad to say, but I won’t miss seeing Leonard Fournette. This season, he’s had two games that were ok, the rest were snoozes. Let’s bring on Dave Williams. It’s good to see DJ Chark back. People hate on Jalen Ramsey, but that dude has played almost the entire season hurt and yet Jax’s secondary is still tops.
Have written before, I don’t trust Bill O’Brian’s injury reports, so just ignore them.
Blake Bortles is baaaack, will he play the entire game is the question? They’re dressing out Tanner Lee, so we can guess they’d like to give him reps and if that happens, assume we’re getting creamed.
I’m posting just the cumulative passing charts because Bortles hadn’t started in a few weeks. Clearly, Deshaun Watson is having a good season even if he’s not among the top passing leaders. He’s judicious with the ball and compliments their run game.
As a slight defense of Borltes, his OL has been atrocious, he didn’t have his number one wide receiver, tight end or running back, plus the OC was fired. Not exactly what is scripted for bringing out the best in QB’s.
A quick recap of the last match-up: Bortles fumbled twice which allowed Houston to get a FG and a TD. Cody Kessler played the second half and lobbed in a TD. Yeldon let a pass bounce off him for an interception.
The Texans had less than 300 total yards, they won from sloppy play by Jax. If the Jags truly want to win, they’ll need their defense to do it for them. To do that, they’ll need to sack Watson more than once. Most importantly, they must play a clean game.
Limit penalties, don’t turn the ball over, create turnovers.
Watson only threw 139 yards that day, I could see that again, but the offense must show up. Houston is ranked 29th vs the pass. They’ve allowed 28 TD’s, but they’ve got 43 sacks and with this OL, it’s tough to see that number not jumping a bunch.
Jacksonville has not been good against the rush, that’s the concern. Even though Houston has DeAndre Hopkins (IMHO the best WR in the NFL this season), the Jags may be best to double him and force Watson to throw everywhere else.
Encourage the pass over the run because it makes their time of possession smaller which will be critical for the Jacksonville offense. One, they’re terribly inefficient and will need more chances to score and two, passing keeps our defense fresher.
Houston’s run game is mid pack as well as their passing, but as everyone knows, stats only tell half the story. How and when you get your yards and scoring is what matters. The Jaguars need to have the Texans pass between the 30’s and run in the red zone. With only ten rushing TD’s this is where they are vulnerable.
As far as Houston, all they need to do is play their defense because the Jag’s offense is putrid. The offensive line is a mess, the tight ends are non-existent, Dede Westbrook is the only receiver (although with DJ Chark back, he could help) and with them down to Yeldon and Williams, who knows what the run game looks like?
The keys are:
Jax: Play smart. Sack Watson. Make him throw to anyone, but Hopkins.
Houston: Show up.
Colts (9-6) vs Titans (9-6)
Marcus Mariota won’t be playing. Not that he’s had a good year (he hasn’t), but he’s been able to run to keep drives going, plus he’s much better than Blaine Gabbert at reading defenses.
With the Colts being in bad shape health-wise, they need a break and not having to spy on Mariota is that chance – not that Gabbert won’t run, but he’s not a dual-threat.
There isn’t a cumulative chart for Gabbert, but his stats are: 7 games, 3 TDS, 2 INTS, on 72 attempts. His rating is 80.8 with a 59.7 completion rate. He’s tried to run 6 times, but has zero yards. His most attempts is 22 and most yards is 118.
The Colts won’t have to worry abut Gabbert tearing them up with his legs or arm. Their concern will be stopping the run and having enough offensive weapons to overcome the Titans 7th ranked defense.
Luck has used tight ends like a magician, it’s an area Tennessee has struggled against (as has most defenses), so while Eric Ebron and Ryan Hewitt are beat-up, he does have Mo Allie-Cox.
What’s of concern is their secondary, but with Gabbert playing, it may be a wash. Inman and Hilton also being hobbled is a huge concern. The Titans are third against the pass, not the best time to have hobbled tight ends and wide receivers.
Marlon Mack will most likely be the cog for Indy today. Tennessee is third vs rushing TD’s, but mid-pack elsewhere. If Indy can rely on him to carry the load between the 30’s and use Luck in the red zone, they could do ok.
Obviously, this will be a run and defense day, not only because of injuries, but the game is outside. The Colts are really good at limiting rushing yards, but only so-so in stopping scores. Against the pass, they’re only two TD’s behind the Titans and with Gabbert at the helm, that shouldn’t change.
These two teams are so close in what you see and get. They’re built differently, but they find ways to win. How injured Indianapolis really is, will be the difference. If it’s just normal bumps and bruises, they should win with Mack and Luck leading the way and just enough defense to stop Tennessee.
If the Colts are as bruised as their injury reports suggests and the Titans can get to Luck, it will be a long day. Both teams have 38 sacks which could be a big key for both teams. If Indy can get to Gabbert, game over, he’s not the calmest guy under pressure.
Andrew Luck is getting rid of the ball much faster this season, which has helped his great OL keep him at a league low of 17 sacks (wow). That will be the Titan’s task: sack Luck or at least cover his receivers long enough he has to hold on to the ball.
Indy: Protect Luck. Rush Gabbert. Stop the run.
Tennessee: Derrick Henry must ball out. Sack Luck. Stop Mack.
This concludes the AFCS Week 17 game previews. Hope everyone has a good New Year’s, and none of our hated rivals get a play off win.