Welcome to Big Cat Country’s weekly roundtable, where our staff previews each Jacksonville Jaguars game and makes picks for every NFL game. The Jaguars are favored by 1.5 points against the Houston Texans in Week 12, according to our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
What does Jacksonville need to change the most from its Week 3 loss to Houston?
Joseph Henry: The Jaguars need to not beat themselves. When I think back to Week 3, I remember a disadvantage in the turnover battle and a horrid day on special teams. Cleaning up mistakes across all three phases and a little bit of revengeful attitude can be the difference on Sunday afternoon.
Travis Holmes: In Week 3, the game got away from defense early, via coverage communication busts and allowing C.J. Stroud space underneath to work down the field. I would argue the Jaguars’ defense needs to play more press-man (Cover 1) and Cover 2-man defenses. I simply don’t believe that the Texans have a better team of athletes offensively to work up and down the field against the Jaguars’ secondary and linebacker core if Jacksonville aggressively challenges them early.
Gus Logue: Don’t blitz C.J. Stroud. He torched the Jaguars’ blitzes back in Week 3 (9-of-12 for 148 yards and 2 touchdowns) and Stroud ranks second in yards per attempt against the blitz on the season (9.4). Look for Jacksonville to back off on 3rd-and-longs this Sunday.
Henry Zimmer: I think the main thing the Jags need to do to beat the Texans is to not underestimate them. This team is in the playoff hunt, after spending most of the offseason being predicted to be one of the league’s worst. The Texans returned a kick and the Jags turned the ball over twice the last time these two teams saw one another. It was a sloppy trap game after the Chiefs loss. Now the Jags have momentum and knowledge of who their opponent really is. If the Jags treat this game like a do-or-die playoff atmosphere, it should be a solid day for the traveling party.
Calvin Ridley lit up the box score last week. Who do you expect to be the Jaguars’ biggest performer(s) this Sunday?
Joseph: There is one player on the offense who is due for a big performance. Travis Etienne has filled up the stat sheet many times this season, including his three-game stretch of two-touchdown outings. He found success against Houston during Week 3, totaling 138 scrimmage yards. I expect similar numbers from Etienne on Sunday and for him to get back in the endzone after a few games of tough sledding.
Travis: I expect this to be a Zay Jones week, with Calvin Ridley likely taking the attention of Derek Stingley Jr., who recently returned from injured reserve. The Texans recently struggled to limit Arizona’s third receiver, Greg Dortch, and I expect this to be a similar week of struggles against a speedy, versatile receiver in Jones. I’m personally expecting a two-plus touchdown day for Zay.
Gus: After signing a $41 million contract extension in July, Evan Engram has yet to cross the pylon this season. He’s the only player in the league not to hit paydirt with at least 45 catches (he has 59 as Jacksonville’s leading pass-catcher). The Jaguars could look to get him going this week with linebacker Denzel Perryman (suspension) and safety Jimmie Ward (hamstring) sidelined.
Henry: Darious Williams might be primed for a solid day against the Texans. I think an interception is well overdue. C.J. Stroud is coming off a three-pick game against the Cardinals and threw one the week before against the Bengals. He had one interception all season prior to that. The Jags didn’t pick off Will Levis last week, but as Stroud is seemingly coming down to earth, Williams could be in a prime position to get his first INT since Oct. 15.
Final score prediction?
Joseph: Jaguars 30, Texans 28
Travis: Jaguars 37, Texans 24
Gus: Jaguars 30, Texans 24
Henry: Jags 27, Texans 21
Here are our staff’s Tallysight picks for the full slate of games this week.
What are your Week 12 predictions, Jaguars fans? Let us know in the comments!