The Houston Texans are next.
While Sunday’s AFC South matchup is no way the end of the season for either the Texans or the Jacksonville Jaguars, this game has plenty of meaning.
The Texans got the best of the Jags in Jacksonville earlier in the year. This time around, the Jags are looking to repay the favor.
“It is not the end of the year but it is big because it is the next game, because it is AFC South and both teams are playing well,” head coach Doug Pederson said on Friday. “It has been a while since both teams have been in this situation together. I think all of that plays into how big this type of football game is. But you have to approach it no different than last week.”
Pederson’s team will be once again without the services of corner Tyson Campbell. Pederson said Campbell is “close, but I don’t want to put him out there just yet.”
Since this is the second time this year that the Jags’ top defensive back has suffered a hamstring injury, the team wants to take his rehab seriously and take as much time as possibly needed.
“Hamstring injuries are different by player,” Pederson said. “So you take them individually. Especially now that this is his second incident, we want to make sure he is 100% upstairs before we put him out there.”
A player that the Jags are looking towards to help pick up the defensive slack on Sunday is Josh Allen.
Allen did not record a sack in the first meeting between the teams, but that hasn’t slowed Allen’s career year. The linebacker has 9.5 sacks so far this season, with 2.5 in the last three weeks.
Pederson said it is up to his franchise player to up his production in the Jags’ second meeting with the Texans.
“That is up to Josh to basically strain and dig and do everything he can to affect the quarterback,” Pederson said. “Josh has done a nice job all season and it is going to take another one of those performances. (The Texans) understand where Josh is going to be and I am sure they will have some attention that way. Josh is going to have to fight through that. When you have good seasons, you earn the respect of your opponent.”
Outside of football, Pederson acknowledged the holidays can impact a player or team’s approach to their next game.
With friends and family in town, it can be easy to get distracted and lose the focus the team had last Sunday.
Pederson said his team is good at taking a break and then returning to full speed. It will be up to the team to return to that intensity during Friday’s practice, and then in Sunday’s bout in Texas.
“Our guys do a good job taking a deep breath,” Pederson said. “We enjoy being around family and friends this time of year but we understand there is a ballgame and we have a job to do.”