JACKSONVILLE (1-15) at HOUSTON (4-12)
Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT, CBS
OPENING LINE: Jaguars by 2.5, according to FanDuel SportsBook
SERIES RECORD: Texans lead 25-13
LAST MEETING: Texans beat Jaguars 27-25 on Nov. 8 in Jacksonville.
JAGUARS OFFENSE: OVERALL (28), RUSH (29), PASS (21), SCORING (30).
JAGUARS DEFENSE: OVERALL (31), RUSH (30), PASS (27), SCORING (31).
TEXANS OFFENSE: OVERALL (13), RUSH (31), PASS (4), SCORING (19).
TEXANS DEFENSE: OVERALL (30), RUSH (32), PASS (24), SCORING (27).
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Jaguars minus-8; Texans minus-9.
JAGUARS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Trevor Lawrence, the first overall pick in this year’s draft, will become the first rookie QB to start in Week 1 in franchise history. He joined he Jaguars after throwing for 10,098 yards and 90 touchdowns in a three-year career at Clemson where he led the Tigers to the 2018 national title. The Texans are 1-1 against rookie quarterbacks starting in openers after beating the Dolphins in Ryan Tannehill’s debut in 2012 and losing to Mark Sanchez in his first game with the Jets in 2009.
TEXANS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Tyrod Taylor will start in place of Deshaun Watson, who remains on the team but won’t play. Watson’s future with the Texans is uncertain after 22 women filed lawsuits alleging sexual assault or harassment after he requested a trade. Taylor gets another shot to start after starting only one game for the Chargers last season before being sidelined when a team doctor accidentally punctured his lung when giving a painkilling injection for a rib injury. By the time he recovered he had lost his starting job to Justin Herbert.
KEY MATCHUP: Houston’s revamped running game vs. Jacksonville’s run defense. The Texans added RBs Phillip Lindsay, Mark Ingram and Rex Burkhead to help improve a running game that ranked 31st in David Johnson’s first year with the team. New Houston coach David Culley has promised that all four backs will get carries and he wants to be a power running team, which will be at test for a Jacksonville defense which ranked 30th against the run last season.
KEY INJURIES: The Jaguars will be without nickel CB Tre Herndon (knee). ... WRs DJ Chark (finger) and Marvin Jones (shoulder) missed time recently but are expected to play. ... Houston K Kaʻimi Fairbairn will miss the game after being placed on injured reserve Wednesday. ... OL Charlie Heck is out this week after being placed on the COVID-19 list Monday. ... WR Anthony Miller returned to practice this week for the first time since injuring his shoulder in the first preseason game, but is unlikely to play.
SERIES NOTES: The Texans have won the last six in the series and 12 of the last 14. ... Jacksonville’s last win in the series came on Dec. 17, 2017. ... This is the second time the teams have opened the season against each other; Houston won 29-7 in the 2017 opener. ... The Texans won 30-14 at home last Oct. 11.
STATS AND STUFF: Both teams have new coaches with Urban Meyer taking over in Jacksonville and Culley in charge in Houston. ... Chark led the Jaguars with 706 yards receiving last year for his second straight 700-yard receiving season. He had a season-high 146 yards receiving with a TD in the last game against Houston. ... WR Marvin Jones makes his Jacksonville debut after he had a career-high 76 catches for 978 yards with the Lions. ... RB James Robinson had 1,070 yards rushing with seven touchdowns and added three receiving scores as a rookie last season. ... LB Myles Jack had 118 tackles, including six tackles for losses — both career highs — in 2020. ... The Texans have 31 new players. ... Houston WR Chris Conley had 87 receptions for 1,246 yards and seven touchdowns in the last two seasons with Jaguars. ... LB Zach Cunningham led the NFL with a career-high 163 tackles in 2020, second most in franchise history. He’s had at least 10 tackles and a sack in his last two games against Jacksonville. ... LB Whitney Mercilus has three sacks and has forced two fumbles combined in his last three games against the Jaguars. ... Veteran WR Danny Amendola signed with the Texans on Wednesday.
FANTASY TIP: Texans WR Brandin Cooks returns after leading the team in yards receiving (1,150) and catches (81) last season. He has had at least 1,000 yards receiving in five of the last six seasons and had 244 yards receiving and two touchdowns combined in two games against Jacksonville in 2020.
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