Jaguars vs Texans: 3 Matchups to watch
Jaguars front seven vs Lamar Miller & Co.
The Texans are a darn good running team. Lamar Miller has already surpassed 1,000 rushing yards on the season with three games to spare. His 4.1 yards per carry on the year is far from spectacular, but is more than enough to get the job done. He has paced a Texans rushing attack that ranks fifth in the NFL in 2016, averaging 126 yards per game. They'll also deploy Alfre Blue, who averaged 4.7 yards per carry on the year. While both players are effective, perhaps the biggest reason for the success in the run game is the fact that the Texans don't give up on the run. They average just under 30 attempts per game on the ground, where as the Jaguars average only 24 attempts per game. Commitment to the running game helps out this Texans team in a big way, especially with their well documented struggles through the air in 2016. The Jaguars are coming off of an uninspired defensive performance that saw them miss double digit tackles. If the Jaguars hope to be more effective stopping the Texans offense than they were in the first meeting between these two division rivals, then they'll need to sure up their tackling in a big way. In the Jaguars heart breaking three point loss to the Texans on November 13th the Jags gave up over 180 yards on the ground. They will not beat the Texans if they can't slow down Lamar Miller and Co.
Jalen vs DeAndre
Jalen Ramsey vs the opposing team's best receiver is always a fun matchup to watch. This one is a little bit different though. Over the past several years DeAndre Hopkins has been widely viewed as a top five wide receiver in football. In the first matchup between these two studs Hopkins was targeted 13 times, yet only came away with 5 cathes for 48 yards and no scores. Hopkins numbers are down in a big way in 2016, which can be blamed on the unfortunate play of quarterback Brock Osweiler. Regardless of who is slinging the ball, Hopkins is always a a major threat on the outside. With any luck these two alpha competitors will matchup with each other twice a season for many years to come.
Kelvin Beachum vs Whitney Mercilus
The Texans losing J.J. Watt greatly impacted the effectiveness of the Texans pass rush in 2016 and their defense as a whole, but that hasn't stopped them from being tied for the division lead through 14 weeks of football. Whitney Mercilus is no J.J. Watt, but he is an effective edge rusher in his own right and has had success against the Jaguars in the past. Earlier this year when the Jaguars and Texans squared off Beacum was able to hold his own and didn't give up a sack. Now, Beachum is coming off of his worst game of 2016 against the Vikings. A game that saw Beachum allow three quarterback pressures and two sacks. Beachum will need to rebound in a big way if Bortles is to make strides towards looking like his 2015 self. Mercilus has 5.5 sacks on the year, and will certainly be looking to improve upon that number.
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