The Jacksonville Jaguars came into London with a 4-4 overall record, with one win and one loss against the American Football Conference South division. After a win against the Jets, 29-15, quarterback Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars’ offense played a lackluster game in London’s Wembley Stadium and put up a total of three points. The Texans held momentum throughout the game by leaning heavily on their franchise quarterback, Deshaun Watson. After a first quarter field goal from kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn, the Texans went on a 14 play, 80-yard drive, which resulted in a one-yard Darren Fells touchdown catch thrown by Watson to put the Texans up 9-0. Minshew looked sub-par as the Texans’ secondary forced rookie mistakes and kept him out of the end zone by causing two interceptions. The Jaguar’s only points came on a second quarter, 30-yard field goal from Josh Lambo. Watson threw two one-yard touchdowns to tight end Darren Fells and receiver Deandre Hopkins. Running back Duke Johnson scored on a one-yard run in the third quarter, making the score 19-3. The Texan’s secondary stepped up by giving the defensive line a couple of extra seconds to generate pressure on the young quarterback, which forced Minshew to make poor decisions.
The final score: 26-3
Player of the Game: Deshaun Watson
This AFC South matchup held important playoff implications as the Jaguars are now tied with the Titans for the last place in the division, and the Texans have moved to first place over the Colts. With the playoffs as the main goal, the Texans are far from perfect as a collective unit. However, with Watson’s ability to stretch a defense as well as his innate leadership and determination, the Texans will have a chance to win every game they play. Coming into London, the Texans held a 5-3 record with the latest win in Houston against the Oakland Raiders, 27-24. Watson finished the day with 201 passing yards and two passing touchdowns off 22 completions. On the season, he has 2,432 passing yards and a total of 23 touchdowns with only five interceptions. The targets were distributed across many players this week, the leader being Duke Johnson with five catches for 68 yards. The run game gave Jacksonville problems throughout the game with running back Carlos Hyde receiving a heavy workload. He carried the ball 19 times for 160 yards. Hopkins keeps producing even with the heavy emphasis defenses put on him every week. He finished with eight catches for 48 yards and a touchdown. The Texans played this week without offensive line starter Laremy Tunsil, receiver Will Fuller, corner Lonnie Johnson, corner Bradley Roby and safety Tashaun Gibson. Posting 410 total yards, 21 first downs and only having one turnover, the Texans offense showed how electric they can be without their best lineman and number two receiver.
The Texans’ defense had a great showing in London, which allowed a total of 356 yards and forced four turnovers. Minshew was able to throw for 309 yards, but ultimately, the Texans shut the Jaguars out three of the four quarters. The Jaguars could not get the running game going with running back Leonard Fournette held to 40 yards on 11 carries. Minshew threw two interceptions, one to safety Justin Reid, and one to safety Jahleel Addae. “Minshew Mania” has been a craze around the league since week one when starter Nick Foles suffered a collarbone injury. This gave Minshew an opportunity to start, and he surprised many with his play throwing for 2,285 yards and 13 touchdowns. Even without J.J. Watt, the defense held its own with four sacks on the day. Linebacker Brennan Scarlett had a team-high two sacks with corner Briean Boddy-Calhoun and defensive end Carlos Watkins also recording a sack. With the play of the defense stepping up and Watson’s continued success, the Texans sit atop the AFC South and will certainly have a chance at the playoffs.
Next week will be a tough matchup for the Texans as they will face-off against a Most Valuable Player candidate in quarterback Lamar Jackson in Baltimore. The Ravens look like a sleeper candidate for the Super Bowl this year coming off a Sunday Night Football win against the New England Patriots (37-20) giving them their first loss of the season. Jackson has been incredible this season, throwing for 1,813 yards and 12 touchdowns, while running for 637 yards and five touchdowns. This week will be tough for the defense as they will have to find a way to rattle Jackson along with stopping the run game including a duo of backs, Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards. Receiver Marquise Brown has been dealing with ankle problems but remains a dangerous target with his game-breaking speed. Against the Patriots, Jackson threw for 163 yards and a touchdown and ran for 61 yards and two touchdowns. The defense is led by a strong secondary with safety Earl Thomas III and corner Brandon Carr. This game will be a tough to win for the Texans as they will need to be perfect for defense to slow Jackson down. Lamar Jackson vs. Deshaun Watson might be a sneak-peak for the future of the l league.
Baltimore, 43-22 in Week 10