The Urban Meyer era begins in Week 1 with the easiest road test the Jacksonville Jaguars could ask for, as they seek to start 1-0 in the AFC South against the rival Houston Texans. Keep reading for our full preview, matchups to watch and predictions for Sunday’s showdown.
Houston Texans vs Jacksonville Jaguars: What you need to know
- Texans host the Jaguars at NRG Stadium on Sunday, September 12th at 1:00 pm ET on CBS.
- Sportsnaut says the Jacksonville Jaguars will beat the Houston Texans, 35-23.
- Odds: The Jaguars are favorites by 3.5 points with the over/under set at 45.5.
Tyrod Taylor vs Trevor Lawrence
Tyrod Taylor is a journeyman quarterback who’s serviceable, but not special. He needs a lot to go right around him to have success and play winning football. Houston just isn’t built that way, as the Texans may have the worst roster in all of football.
Despite a rough preseason, rookie No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence is a much more dynamic arm talent than Taylor and has legitimate weapons at wide receiver in DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault Jr., and Marvin Jones.
- Tame Tyrod: An inability — or unwillingness — to stretch the field is a problem Taylor has dealt with throughout his career. He’s also indecisive on when to tuck the ball and run. That overall hesitancy to his game doesn’t bode well, especially when he’ll have pass-catchers who, for the most part, struggle to get separation.
- Leaning On Lawrence: The Jaguars really need to protect Lawrence and put together a strong game plan. It’ll help that Houston has a no-name defense with absolutely zero players who should strike fear into the visitors.
Advantage: Jacksonville Jaguars
David Culley vs Urban Meyer
As can be glimpsed in the video that leads this Texans vs Jaguars preview, it seems there’s already discord in the Jaguars organization about Meyer. That’s not ideal, but winning cures all, and this is an absolutely winnable game for Meyer to help get his players to buy in.
With all due respect to David Culley, he’s in over his head. A longtime NFL assistant who was an uber-late hire by the Texans, Culley is in the worst coaching situation in the league. Bad talent, bad organization, bad at quarterback. No-win situation.
- Composed Culley: Credit this man for not lashing out at the media amid relentless questions about Deshaun Watson‘s trade request and off-field scandal, not to mention all the bad buzz around the franchise overall. Culley seems like a good leader, but Houston was not the head coaching opportunity he should’ve jumped on.
- Mysterious Meyer: The thing is, no one has any clue whether or not the Jags’ anemic preseason offense is a sign of what’s to come, or if Jacksonville really put a lid on its scheme. Anything feels possible with Lawrence at the controls, and his impact alone could bail Meyer out big time.
Advantage: Jacksonville Jaguars
Brandin Cooks vs Shaquill Griffin
Last year’s top-10 pick C.J. Henderson hasn’t performed well, and no other cornerbacks on the Jaguars roster seem ready to roll aside from veteran Shaquill Griffin. Jacksonville acquired him to bring much-needed leadership and experience to a green secondary that is likely to be a weak point of the team.
Griffin’s skill set is more geared toward zone coverage, which he thrived in as a member of the Seattle Seahawks. However, he’ll be tasked with marking up Texans star Brandin Cooks, whose injury history has prevented him from remaining among the league’s elite wide receivers.
- Sizzling Cooks: Lost in all the noise surrounding Houston is the fact that Cooks balled out in 2020, with 81 receptions for 1,150 yards and six touchdowns. He’ll be the Jags’ main focus, but they have don’t have great odds of stopping him due to their lackluster personnel on the back end.
- Shaq Must Play Big: Griffin is a long, physical corner, so he needs to get some good jams on Cooks at the line of scrimmage to disrupt the timing of the Texans’ passing game. It’s just that his skill set isn’t really suited to marking up such a quick, explosive wideout.
Advantage: Houston Texans
The bottom line: Before Jacksonville looked awful in its exhibition games, this seemed like a no-brainer pick. Now, it feels a little less certain, but Lawrence’s talent and an opened-up playbook should help the Jaguars pull this one out in Houston.