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NFL, Week 9: Texans-Jaguars — Four Things To Watch For

Deshaun Watson is having one of his best seasons statistically. Now, he needs to win more games.
Deshaun Watson is having one of his best seasons statistically. Now, he needs to win more games.
Photo by Eric Sauseda

As we outlined earlier this week, the Houston Texans were largely inactive at the trade deadline. Running into the fray behind Cal McNair's shield of optimism, the Texans are attacking the second half of the season with largely the same group that got them to 1-6 to start this season. Their playoff chances sit at well under one percent right now, but the schedule does ease up a bit over the next month.

What's a reasonable goal for the Texans as they resume this season coming off of the bye week? I would say "making the seasons somewhat interesting" would be a reasonable target. Beat Jacksonville this week, beat Cleveland next week, and then you're coming home for a game against a wounded Patriots team. Adding some juice to the Patriots game would be nice.

For now, let's eat what's on the plate — here are four things to watch for in Jacksonville this weekend, as the Texans look for their second win of the season:

4. Oh, a rookie QB!
The King of Spunky, second year QB Garnder Minshew, is out for this game with a thumb injury, so the Texans get to face a rookie QB! Not sure if you've heard, but Romeo Crennel feasts on rookie quarterbacks like he feasts on calzones!

For what it's worth, here is Jacksonville head coach Doug Marrone with about as comatose an endorsement of a rookie QB as you'll find on the internet:

Not a big surprise, this is one of Bill O'Brien's best friends in the coaching fraternity.

3. Getting some different guys some snaps
The Texans stood pat during the trade deadline, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't start seeing some new faces in the snap rotation. So Romeo, let's use the woeful Jaguars as our petri dish. Unfortunately, a positive COVID test will prevent Jacob Martin from getting more snaps, but the absence of Martin and Whitney Mercilus (who will be out because of contact tracing from Martin's positive test) should finally give rookie OLB Jonathan Greenard some snaps.. Give John Reid some of Vernon Hargreaves reps at slot corner. Let's see us some Keke Coutee running (hopefully correct) routes! Maybe let him return a kick or a punt instead of DeAndre Carter. Nothing to lose at this point!

2. Keep that Watson statistical parade going
Lost in the 1-6 start for the season is the fact that Deshaun Watson is playing some of the best football of his career. Check out these numbers, courtesy of Texans PR:

QB Deshaun Watson leads the NFL in passing yards per attempt (8.8) and ranks third in completions of 20-or-more yards (30) this season. He also ranks ninth in the NFL in passing yards (2,095), tied for seventh in passing touchdowns (15) and seventh in completion percentage (69.5) this season.

QB Deshaun Watson has notched a franchise-record five consecutive games with a passer rating of at least 100.0. He also became the first quarterback in franchise history to complete at least 60 percent of his passes in each of the first seven games of a season. He owns the most passing yards and most completions by a Texans quarterback through the first seven games of a season.

The Texans might finish the season 6-10 — hell, they may be LUCKY to finish 6-10 — but let's at least keep this watchable brand of passing offense going for nine more games.

1. The beginning of something great (or at least moderately good)
The Texans spent the first seven weeks of the season running a gauntlet that included five of the ten best teams in the league, by most power rankings. Kansas City, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh specifically are generally thought to be three of the five best teams in the league. Starting Sunday, though, things ease up a bit. Here are the overall efficiency DVOA rankings from Football Outsiders for the Texans first seven opponents (As a point of reference, the Texans are rated 20th overall in DVOA):

WEEK 1 - KC 4th
WEEK 2 - BAL 3rd
WEEK 3 - PIT 2nd
WEEK 4 - MIN 15th
WEEK 5 - JAC 31st
WEEK 6 - TEN 13th
WEEK 7 - GB 8th

That's an average ranking of 11th. Now, here is the overall DVOA of their NEXT four opponents:

WEEK 9 - JAX 31st
WEEK 10 - CLV 22nd
WEEK 11 - NE 26th
WEEK 12 - DET 17th

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That's an average ranking of 24th.

Better days lie ahead! Hopefully.

SPREAD: Texans -7
PREDICTION: Texans 34, Jaguars 14

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.

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