Texans look to continue playoff push against Jaguars
HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans are being careful to avoid a letdown Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are losers of eight straight, after their huge win at Indianapolis last week that left them in control of the AFC South.
“We keep it all in perspective no matter what their record is,” Houston left tackle Duane Brown said. “We know that they’re going to play us very tough. ... We’re not overlooking them by any means and we’re not resting on our accomplishment from last week. So we’re all pretty focused on them and the challenges that they have.”
Houston’s victory over the Colts last week extended the team’s division winning streak to nine games and left the Texans tied with the Titans atop the AFC South standings at 7-6. But the Texans control their own destiny and hold the tiebreaker because of a 4-0 mark in the division .
The Texans won last week, thanks to Lamar Miller’s running and a defense which forced three turnovers. Quarterback Brock Osweiler still hasn’t morphed into the player many hoped he would be when he signed a $72 million contract to leave Denver for Houston this offseason. Under Osweiler’s direction, Houston is averaging just 190 yards passing a game, which ranks 30th in the NFL and he has thrown the same number of touchdowns (14) as interceptions.
Osweiler believes he learned from being in a playoff race last season with the Broncos and is ready to lead the Texans in this important stretch.
“The most important thing this time of year is not looking too far ahead,” he said. “It’s very easy to get into the playoff scenarios, the division scenarios ... I think the most important thing is just focus on your next opponent because if you look past an opponent, you’re not going to end up with the results that you want.”
The Jaguars (2-11) know that upsetting the Texans could hurt their playoff chances. But instead of focusing on that, they want to use their last three games, which are all in the division, to try and improve and set a good tone for 2017.
“I don’t think ‘spoiler’ is the right word to use,” quarterback Blake Bortles said. “I think you want to get the chance to say: ‘How are we against one of these playoff teams and (how do we) stack up?’ You really don’t want to talk about it or think about it, but let’s build something going into the offseason for next year.”
Some things to know about the Jaguars-Texans game:
FOUR-PEAT?: Bortles can’t possibly throw another interception for a touchdown against Houston, can he?
Bortles has had a pick returned for a score in three consecutive games against the Texans, tying an NFL record set by Peyton Manning.
“I’ve got to be a better tackler,” Bortles joked.
If Bortles has another INT taken to the house Sunday, he would become the first player in NFL history to throw four pick-6′s against the same team in four straight games. Manning had three returned for scores in three consecutive games against San Diego (2010-12). “That’s something I’ll try not to do,” Bortles said.
He might want to throw away from Houston cornerback Kareem Jackson after he has returned an interception for a touchdown in the Texans’ last two games against the Jaguars.
THIS IS THE GUY WE DRAFTED: Houston defensive end Jadeveon Clowney had perhaps the best game of his career last week against Indianapolis.
Andrew Luck threw an interception early in the third quarter under heavy pressure from Clowney and fumbled late in the quarter on a strip-sack by the top overall pick in the 2014 draft. Clowney, who was slowed by injuries in his first two seasons, returned last week after missing a game because of elbow and wrist injuries. He leads AFC defensive ends with 12 tackles for losses and needs one sack to surpass his career high of 4 1/2 set last season.
CLOSE CALLS: Jacksonville had had plenty of chances to end its eight-game losing streak. The Jaguars have had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter in five of their last six games. In those 11 possessions, they have six punts, three turnovers on downs, an interception and a fumble. The only game where Jacksonville didn’t have a chance late? Against Houston.
MILLER TIME: Miller has been great in his first season in Houston after spending his first four years with the Dolphins. He ranks sixth in the NFL with 1,010 yards rushing and is just 90 yards away from surpassing his career high of 1,099 yards set in 2014.
Miller hasn’t missed a game this season despite dealing with numerous injuries, and Sunday will be his 67th straight start, which is the third-longest active streak among running backs.
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL