The Jets look to win consecutive games since week five as they battle the NFC South division leading Houston Texans. After nine straight wins in a row Houston came back down to Earth last week losing 24-21 to their division rival Indianapolis Colts.
Houston comes into New York carrying one of the leagues most high-powered offenses. They carry a plethora of weapons, including one of the league’s top 3 wideouts in Deandre Hopkins. Hopkins and his 1,151 yards and 9 touchdowns are among league leaders in both categories.
Stopping Hopkins is a hard task in itself. Then you add veteran Demaryius Thomas and rookie Keke Coutee and suddenly their wideout core is one of the best in the league. Deshawn Watson has been shaky at times this season but has come on strong after their three-game losing streak to start the season. His dual threat ability to sling and run has made him into one of the best young quarterbacks at only 23-years-old. Watson currently stands fourth in the league in rushing yards among quarterbacks.
While the offense is everything it was made out to be, the defense is what Houston hangs their hat on. Three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner J.J. Watt is having a phenomenal season, totaling 12.5 sacks and five forced fumbles. On the other side of him is Jadeveon Clowney, who too has seven sacks on the season.
The defense has consistently shown up and applied pressure on quarterbacks all season. That will be no different Saturday. The Jets’ offensive line has improved, playing exceptionally well last week, but this might be their hardest task to date.
While the Jets are officially out of playoff contention, growing and seeing the improvements with Sam Darnold at quarterback is the key. Riding that game winning drive momentum into this contest will be vital for Sam and his maturity.
When: Saturday, December 15, 4:30 NFL Network
Where: Metlife Stadium
Series: New York leads 5-2
Last Meeting: New York 17, Houston 24
Last Jets Win: 11/21/2010 New York 30, Houston 27
Injury Report: Jets: DNP- Jeremiah Attaochu (concussion), Isaiah Crowell (toe), Quincy Enunwa (ankle), / Limited Practice- Trenton Cannon (toe), Kevin Pierre-Louis (shoulder), Jordan Jenkins (shoulder/ankle), Trumaine Johnson (foot) / Full Practice: Robby Anderson (ankle), Kelvin Beachum (knee), Morris Claiborne (shoulder/neck), Sam Darnold (foot), Jordan Leggett (knee), Spencer Long (knee/finger), Andre Roberts (foot), Buster Skrine (shoulder), Chirs Herndon (non-injury), Elijah McGuire (ankle)
Titans: DNP- D’Onta Foreman (non-injury), Benardrick McKinny (non-injury) /Limited: Keke Coutee (hamstring), Zach Fulton (hand), Andre Hal (ankle), DeAndre Hopkins (foot), Senio Kelemete (elbow) / Full Practice: DeAndre Carter (concussion), Dylan Cole (wrist/knee), Aaron Colvin (ankle), Kareem Jackson (knee), Johnathon Joseph (neck), Greg Mancz (knee), Brian Peters (ankle), Justin Reid (shoulder/wrist), Deshaun Watson (right shoulder), J.J. Watt (knee), Shareece Wright (neck)
Jets Rankings 2018: Offense: Points per game 20.8 (26th), Rushing 106.2 (21st), Passing 190.7 (30th), Yards Per Game 296.9 (30th), Third Down% 30.6 (30th)/ Defense: Points per game 25.4 (22nd), Rushing, 132 (27th), Passing, 243.8 (16th), Yards per game: 375.8 (23rd), Third Down % 33.7% (2nd)
Texans Rankings 2018: Offense Points per game, 24.8 (12th), Rushing, 136.8 (3rd), Passing, 232.7 (19th), Yards per game, 369.5 (13th), Third Down, 39 (16th)/ Defense: Points per game, 19.9 (4th), Rushing, 88.2 (5th), Passing, 260.6 (24th), Yards per game, 348.8 (13th), Third down %, 38.7 (16th)
Keys to the game:
Get Creative on Offense
There’s no denying that the strength of the Texans’ defense is their front four, and the pressure they can get on the quarterback. For Darnold’s health sake, and the Jets success, a game plan that focuses on getting the ball out quick and staying creative will be the solution to the Texans’ defense. Integrating the runningbacks with screens and wheel routes are perfect ways to keep the defense off balance while letting the front four get as far up field as they want. Bates needs to give Darnold more space in the playbook, because it will ultimately get him more comfortable to try new plays. If the Jets run out there with a stale gameplan, expect Clowney and Watt to continue to feast on New York’s subpar offensive line.
Stop the Run
The most underrated part about the Texans’ offense is how strong Lamar Miller and the run game has come on in the past few weeks. Miller started out the season slow but has come around to rush for 909 yards, sixth best in the league. The run game creates balance for Houston, which helps lessen the amount that Watson must do on a weekly basis. The chunk runs, including a 97-yard touchdown against the Titans, have propelled Houston’s offense to become not just good, but elite. If the Jets can stop Miller, then it ruins Houston’s game plan and setting up the play action that they love to run.
Maintain Time Possession
Best way to counteract the Houston offense is to simply limit the times they get the ball. The Jets must feature the run game heavy to control the time of possession and keep their defense off the field. If they try to outscore Houston, they will find little success. They simply do not have the playmakers, or elite wideout personnel to keep up. Slow the ball down, wear the defense out, and finish drives. Do that and they will give themselves a chance to win come Saturday.
X-Factor: Defensive Line
Getting to the quarterback has been arguably New York’s weakest suit through thirteen games. In this contest they need to do a bit of everything to stop Houston. Stopping the run game and Lamar Miller will be task number one. If they can do that then Houston’s gameplan becomes easier to figure out. Second is to apply pressure on Watson to force turnovers. If Watson has all day behind his line, he will pick apart the Jets defense. There’s no playoffs in the future for the 2018 Jets but plenty of guys should be playing like their job depends on it.
Prediction: New York 21, Houston 27
The Jets are simply too outmanned and outmatched talent wise against this Houston team to have a legit chance of winning. Last week’s comeback win might be the spark they need, but that does not make up for the lack of pass rush and elite playmakers that Houston has, and New York doesn’t. Deshaun Watson needs one of his uglier games to give New York any chance of pulling out a late season victory.