Unless you have been hiding under a rock or waking up from a turkey induced coma, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be the center of the NFL universe on Thursday night.
Welcome to north Florida, Prime Time. Glad to have you back in our fair city.
In come the Houston Texans, a team that has lost 10 consecutive games and fell two weeks ago to these very same Jaguars, a team that coincidentally has won two straight and three of four since the bye week.
To say this is a warm team (not a hot team) would be an understatement given the fact no one gave this team a chance to win any games this season during its eight-game losing streak.
Also at stake is a chance to finally break a home losing streak that goes as far back as November of last season. The Texans almost beat the New England Patriots last Sunday and hope the spirited effort will provide a stepping stone to a potential win this week.
Houston is now the worst team in the NFL and holds the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. A win could change all that and hand the baton back to the Jaguars, who despite the recent success are still dealing with a stagnant offense and youth that is still learning to play together in a man’s game.
Here are three bold predictions for Thursday night’s action…
Maurice Jones-Drew runs, catches and throws a touchdown pass
The “Little Engine That Could” is slowly getting his running legs back. That is good news for the Jaguars. Last week, MJD threw his first touchdown pass of his career. Last week, he scored the team’s only touchdown against the Texans. Could we finally see him catch a pass in the end zone? While he is becoming more integral to the offense, we could see more of him in different offensive schemes.
JJ Watt gets shut out
The Jaguars and Watt have had a love affair since he was drafted in 2011 (one spot behind Blaine Gabbert). Watt terrorizes the Jaguars on a yearly basis and Jacksonville takes it like a red-headed stepchild. Some of Watt’s best games in his early career have been against the Jaguars and last time the two faced each other, Watt was constantly in the Jacksonville backfield causing all kinds of havoc. The Jaguars will finally find a way to keep No. 99 under control.
Dynamic duo does it again
The one thing I noticed last week was besides Josh Gordon, the Jaguars shut down the Browns wide receivers. They did the same thing two weeks ago with these Texans. Both Jonathan Cyprien and Dwayne Gratz scored an interception last week. It is the first time the rookies have done that this season. Both are getting better while learning on the job and it is possible the two could do it again this week.