The Houston Texans (8-7) are on the verge of clinching the AFC South and the No. 4 seed in the AFC playoffs as they host the Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10) on Sunday at NRG Stadium in Week 17.
Despite starting four different quarterbacks this season, Houston has an excellent shot of going to the playoffs for the first time since the 2012. The Texans lock up the division with a win or tie, a loss or tie from Indianapolis.
Brian Hoyer will be under center for Houston, according to coach Bill O’Brien. Hoyer suffered his second concussion in less than a month on Dec. 13 against New England and hasn’t played since. Brandon Weeden stepped in for an injured T.J. Yates the next week in a win over Indianapolis and started as a Texan for the first time, throwing for 200 yards and accounting for three touchdowns in the win over Tennessee in Week 16.
In 10 games this season, Hoyer has completed 60.5 percent of his passes for 2,357 yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. His highest rated game of the season came when these teams met Week 6 at Jacksonville. Hoyer went 24-of-36 for 293 yards and three scores en route to a 31-20 Texans win.
He’ll likely continue to feed DeAndre Hopkins, whose 104 receptions and 1,432 yards are No. 3 in the league despite the turnover at quarterback. Hopkins has 11 receiving touchdowns and six games over 100 yards. Jacksonville’s defense allows the fourth-most passing yards (269.9) in the NFL and the second-most points per game (27.9).
The Jaguars have lost four of five and want to salvage the final week of the season. The bright spots have nearly all been on offense, where Blake Bortles ranks No. 2 in the league with 34 touchdown passes. He crossed the 4,000 passing-yard threshold last week while throwing for 368 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions in a 38-27 loss to New Orleans.
Bortles also has one of just two receiving tandems with both guys over 1,000 yards receiving through Week 16 in Allen Robinson (1,292) and Allen Hurns (1,013). Robinson caught six passes for 151 yards and a score last week and is tied for the league lead in touchdowns (14) after scoring seven in the last five games. Jacksonville’s top-10 passing attack is met this week by Houston’s No. 3-ranked pass defense, which allows just 212.2 yards per game.
Bortles threw for 331 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions in the Week 6 loss to Houston.
Prediction: Hoyer’s health is a question markand Bill O’Brien needs to know who his QB will be heading into the wild-card round. Houston can still lose this game and make the playoffs but this one is still important to them.
Predicted Score: Texans over Jaguars, 23-17.