Six Points: Texans vs. Jaguars
The Houston Texans will once again turn to Brian Hoyer at quarterback as the team looks to break a two-game losing streak Sunday in Jacksonville.
The Texans (1-4) are coming off a Thursday-night loss to the Colts in which Hoyer took over in the second quarter for Ryan Mallett. Hoyer, who started Houston's season-opener before getting benched himself, hopes to have more staying power in his second stint as starter.
The Jaguars (1-4), losers of three in row, will try to bounce back from a 38-31 loss to Tampa Bay which left head coach Gus Bradley demanding greater accountability among his players. Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles, who threw four touchdowns last week, is nursing a sprained throwing shoulder, but all indications are he will play.
Here are three keys to the game for both the Texans and the Jaguars.
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1. Feed Arian Foster
The Jacksonville run defense gave up 183 yards on the ground to the Buccaneers last week without middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, who is dealing with a high ankle sprain. If Posluszny is again unable to play this week, the Texans should be able to exploit his absence. Foster, in his third game back following groin surgery, has the opportunity to have a big day.
2. Watch out for the Allens
Wide receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns have emerged as dependable 1-2 options for the Jaguars. Robinson caught seven passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns last week, while Hurns had five receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown of his own. After allowing Andre Johnson to catch two touchdowns last week, the Houston defensive backs need to make sure they don't get burned by the talented Jacksonville duo.
3. Harass Bortles
Bortles is hurt and playing behind an offensive line that regressed last week, giving up six sacks. Jadeveon Clowney has yet to record an NFL sack and J.J. Watt is coming off an uncharacteristically quiet game in which he recorded just two tackles. Both have the potential to make an impact against the Jacksonville offensive line.
1. Limit DeAndre Hopkins as best you can
Hopkins, who had 11 catches for 169 yards last week, leads the NFL in receiving yards and is second in receptions. Cornerback Davon House, who had success shadowing Tampa Bay's Mike Evans last week, will need another strong performance against Hopkins.
2. Clean up the mistakes and mental errors
The Jaguars gave up two long punt returns to the Buccaneers, including one that went for 58 yards. They also missed 23 tackles on defense. Jacksonville can't afford those types of negative plays, as they often lead to points. As last week demonstrated, even when the offense puts up 31 points, the mistakes caused by sloppy play can be difficult to overcome.
3. Work Julius Thomas into the offense
Thomas caught two passes for 20 yards in his season debut last week. This week, he needs to play a larger role in the offense. The Pro Bowl tight end was brought to Jacksonville to serve as one of Bortles' main weapons. This would be a good week to get started, particularly in the red zone.