Jacksonville Jaguars Wide Receiver Allen Robinson is not the same force he was in 2015, finishing with 80 receptions, good for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. At the halfway point this year, the third-year veteran is on pace for another 80-catch season, but the yardage total (442) is well off last year's pace as are the touchdowns (4). Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla. TV: CBS, Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon.
SERIES HISTORY: 29th meeting in the series. Houston leads, 17-11. Teams have played twice every year for 14 consecutive seasons. Jaguars .393 percentage against Texans is second worst among opponents it has played at least 10 times (Indianapolis, 10-21, .323). Jaguars have lost four in a row and 9 of last 11 to Texans. Only two wins in that span came in 2013 when Jacksonville won both games. Jacksonville has split 14 games at home with Houston.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
The Texans will try to contain athletic Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles and limit the impact of wide receivers Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson.
On offense, the Texans will try to limit turnovers and establish the running game with Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue. They want to get wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins more involved.
Texans rookie wide receiver Will Fuller returned to practice Wednesday. The first-round draft pick from Notre Dame left the game against Detroit and didn't return. He has dealt with knee and hamstring injuries.
Texans coach Bill O'Brien characterized Fuller as a game-time decision.
"I think he's doing okay," O'Brien said. "I think he's day to day."
Meanwhile, five-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Vince Wilfork didn't practice again due to a groin injury.
Other than coughing the ball up three times in the Kansas City game, the Jaguars offense was efficient last week in achieving the balance it is seeking. A ground game that netted 205 yards and a passing attack that accounted for 252 should have been good enough to produce a win. But four turnovers overshadowed the offensive numbers in the 19-14 loss.
Still, it gives hope that newly appointed offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett found the right mix of run-pass in his first game of calling plays. Look for Jacksonville to continue that trend, especially the 32 running plays that produced a 200-yard effort.
Bortles also threw more long passes, and while only connecting on one pass that gained more than 20 yards, the Jaguars will likely continue to try and hit on the long ball downfield.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
-- Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins vs. Jaguars DB Jalen Ramsey.
Hopkins had strong performances against the Jaguars last season, but that was without Ramsey. The rookie defensive back has provided size, strength and speed for a secondary that was lacking those qualities. Hopkins isn't having a great season.
--Texans OLB Whitney Mercilus vs. Jaguars QB Blake Bortles.
Mercilus is the Texans' top pass rusher with 4.5 sacks and 12 quarterback hits. Bortles is mobile, but is a big target at 6-5, 239 pounds and has been sacked just 19 times. He passed for 2,156 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for an 80.1 passer rating.
Jaguars WR Allen Robinson. This is not the same who was a force in 2015, finishing with 80 receptions, good for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. At the halfway point this year, the third-year veteran is on pace for another 80-catch season, but the yardage total (442) is well off last year's pace as are the touchdowns (4). Robinson has shown some signs of getting on track. His 7 catches against Kansas City matched his season best while his 76 receiving yards was his best this year. But he had nine games last year in which he had at least 80 yards in receptions and he's yet to hit that total once in his first eight games. Robinson has had too many drops this year and quarterback Blake Bortles has not delivered the ball to him nearly as efficient as he did a year ago.
Houston -- Out: S Lonnie Ballentine (groin, knee, ankle), WR Jaelen Strong (ankle). Questionable: CB A.J. Bouye (ankle), WR Will Fuller (knee), RB Jonathan Grimes (illness), LB Brian Peters (quadriceps), DT Vince Wilfork (groin).
Jacksonville -- Out: WR Bryan Walters (concussion). Questionable: LB Arthur Brown (ankle), S Tashaun Gipson (hamstring), WR Allen Hurns (concussion), DE Chris Smith (eye).
Texans QB Brock Osweiler is 2-0 vs. the division with 523 passing yards and four TDs.
RB Lamar Miller collected 286 scrimmage yards (231 rushing) and two TDs in the past two division games and ranks fifth in the AFC with 637 yards rushing.
DE Jadeveon Clowney had one sack in Week 8 and is tied for the lead among NFL DEs with nine tackles for loss.
Jags QB Blake Bortles has attempted at least 30 passes in 17 straight games, the second-longest active streak in the NFL (Joe Flacco, 23). However, extended time in the pocket has exposed him to pressure as Bortles has been sacked in 22 straight games, also the second-longest active streak (Philip Rivers, 27).
The Texans are rested but still not healthy after their bye, but they probably can beat the struggling Jags.
OUR PICK: Texans, 28-14.