|10:00 AM PT11:00 AM MT12:00 PM CT1:00 PM ET18:00 GMT2:00 11:00 AM MST1:00 PM EST12:00 PM CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:� , December 30, 2018|
NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas Attendance: 71,848
Texans can clinch division title by beating Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
- The Texans beat the Jaguars in Week 7, 20-7, giving them an 11-4 record against Jacksonville since 2011. Each of the seven seasons over that span has ended with one team sweeping the other, with Houston doing so five times (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016) and the Jaguars doing so twice (2013, 2017).
- After losing all seven of their games in October and November, the Jaguars won for the second time in four games this month with a 17-7 victory in Miami last week. Jacksonville has held opponents to single-digit points in 10 games since the start of last season, four more than any other team in that span.
- The Texans fell for the second time in three games last week on a last-second field goal in Philadelphia, 32-30, their NFL-leading seventh game this year decided by three points or fewer (4-3 record). Houston will win the AFC South for the third time in four seasons with a win on Sunday, and would have its first ever postseason bye if they better the Patriots' result.
- Houston has six more wins than a season ago, tied with Chicago for the second-largest improvement in the NFL (Cleveland - +7). Jacksonville has five fewer wins than it did in 2017, tied with five other teams for the largest decrease in the league.
- Leonard Fournette needs 21 rushing yards to reach 1500 for his career. In team history, only Fred Taylor (1955) and Maurice Jones-Drew (1709) have more through two NFL seasons than Fournette's 1479.
- Deshaun Watson threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more last week, giving him 51 touchdowns responsible for in his career. He reached 50 in just 22 career games, tied with Daunte Culpepper for the fourth fewest in NFL history.
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The Houston Texans would guarantee themselves an AFC South title and a home playoff game if they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in Houston on Sunday.
The Texans (10-5) clinched a playoff berth last Sunday despite their 32-30 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Now the Texans turn their attention to the Jaguars (5-10), who beat the Dolphins 17-7 last week but have lost nine of their last 11 games. That slump includes a 20-7 loss to the Texans on Oct. 21 in Jacksonville.
"We have a great opportunity," Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said. "Our fans are going to be fantastic on Sunday. We've got to go do it. Like always, you're going to write whatever you're going to write and I know that you're going to write that they're a 5-10 team and all of that, but throw the film on."
O'Brien points to the Jaguars' talented defense led by Jalen Ramsey, Calais Campbell, Myles Jack and Telvin Smith.
Jacksonville ranks fifth in the NFL in both total defense and scoring defense, yielding 19.7 points per game.
The Jaguars are making a change at quarterback, going back to Blake Bortles as their starter.
Bortles was benched in favor of Cody Kessler five games ago, but he came off the bench to lead the victory over the Dolphins, and this week Jaguars head coach Doug Marone said Bortles would start the season finale.
Marrone said he is making the move because Bortles' mobility gives the Jaguars a better chance to win against a "very tough" Texans team.
But the last time the Jaguars faced Houston, Bortles was benched in the third quarter after passing for just 61 yards and losing two fumbles.
The Jaguars signed Bortles to a three-year, $54 million contract in February, believing he could be the long-term answer at quarterback. Now it's not clear.
"I just work here, man," Bortles said this week. "I signed up for three years and until those three years are up or they let me go, I'll play when they need me."
Last year, Bortles led the Jaguars to a 10-6 regular-season record and two postseason wins, but this season the Jaguars are just 3-8 in games he started.
"Everything you need to be a successful team and win a Super Bowl in this league is in this locker room," Bortles said.
Meanwhile, the Texans have received solid quarterback play from Deshaun Watson.
He has completed more than 70 percent of his passes in each of the past five games and has thrown eight touchdown passes with no interceptions in that span.
Watson had to take the bus to Jacksonville for the teams' first meeting because he had a collapsed lung and injured ribs. He was just 12 of 24 for 139 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in that game.
Asked about his health for this week's game, Watson said, "I don't have a collapsed lung or a broken rib, so I guess pretty darn well. I feel good, feel solid, able to do everything I want to do and participate, wake up every morning healthy and in good spirits."
He must produce one more time on Sunday.
"There's not really pressure for me or anything because every game is a must-win," Watson said. "Every game I want to win. So, for me, I'm not used to losing, like I said before, and every game, I put that mindset in my head that we must go in and win. We understand the stakes of this game is the opportunity to clinch, but at the end of the day, you can't focus on that. You just have to focus on your job and going out there and performing and let the game come to you. You can't put unnecessary pressure on yourself."
The teams have reversed their status during the season. The Texans started 0-3, but have now clinched a playoff berth. Meanwhile, the Jaguars began the season 3-1, but have fallen apart.
"I think teams evolve over the year," O'Brien said. "For us, I think everybody evolves. We're a little bit different. I think we're more identified as to what we are, and we have to get back to that. We have to do a better job of running the football and we've got to do a better job of stopping the run."
The individual matchup worth watching will be Jaguars cornerback Ramsey against Texans wide receiver Andre Hopkins, who is second in the league in receiving yardage with 1,425.
Updated December 26, 2018