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Coming off a 21-24 shocking upset home loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 14, the 9-4 Houston Texans are looking to right their playoff ship away from home against a much weaker Jets opponent in Week 15.
Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson not only completed 27-of-38 passes for 267 yards and a touchdown in that defeat, he was also the teams leading rusher with five carries for 35 yards.
Houston is 4-2 on the road and 7-3 against AFC teams, but if they want to continue their march to the playoffs, they must take care of business against the last place Jets.
With the return of their injured rookie quarterback Sam Darnold (foot), the 4-9 New York Jets took care of the struggling Buffalo Bills 27-23 in Week 14 and look to continue their winning ways in Week 15 where once again they are playing at home.
Darnold, who has started and played in ten games this season, has more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (12) and a completion percentage of just 55.9, all rookie problems for the first-round draft pick who looks brilliant in some moments and not so much in all the others.
New York is just 2-4 at home and theyre only 3-7 against AFC opponents, so its no wonder that they are the underdog by almost a touchdown in this one.
These two teams have met 7 times, with New York winning 5 games and Houston winning 2 games. The Texans have won the last two matchups, the most recent one being in November of 2015, the Texans winning 24-17.
If the Texans win this matchup, their record will be 10-4 and theyll remain atop the AFC South and at least two games ahead of the Indianapolis Colts, further assuring their third seed position in the playoffs.
But if the Jets come out on top, theyll be 5-9 and remain in the AFC East basement with the Buffalo Bills, but that loss theyll have just given to the Texans will make life a little brighter for playoff-hopeful Colts fans in the AFC South.
Whos favored to win this Week 15 Texans-Jets matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which teams quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
Were going to compare the Texans and the Jets and attempt to answer those questions and more.
If Houston expects quarterback Watson to be successful, one way to help him out is to protect him a little better, seeing as hes been sacked 46 times this season, second most in the league.
All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is having his fourth 1000+ receiving yard season, so far catching 84-of-124 for 1,151 yards and 9 touchdowns.
With Keke Coutee hurt (see below), receivers Demaryius Thomas and DeAndre Hopkins and tight ends Ryan Griffin and Jordan Akins have had to step up as targets.
Between running backs Lamar Miller, Alfred Blue and quarterback Watson, the Texans have been extremely effective on the ground.
Houston rushes for 136.8 running yards per game and overall has averaged 4.4 yards per touch.
Listed as questionable for Week 15: Guard Zach Fulton (hand) and wide receiver Keke Coutee (hamstring).
Listed as questionable for Week 15: Wide receiver DeAndre Carter (concussion).
Last week against the Bills, Jets quarterback Sam Darnold left the game in the first quarter after tweaking his injured leg but he returned at the beginning of the second quarter.
Against Buffalo, Darnold completed 16-of-24 for 170 yards and a touchdown with an interception because thats what rookies tend to do.
The receiving corps Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse is ranked 30th in the NFL after averaging just 190.7 total passing yards per game.
Running back Isaiah Crowell, a free agent the Jets picked up from the Browns during last offseason, has a hurt foot (see below) so New Yorks backfield has been taken over by second year player Elijah McGuire and rookie Trenton Cannon.
Both players can also catch the balls, and so far McGuire has 52 touches for 241 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown while Cannon has 40 touches for 195 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown.
Listed as questionable for Week 15: running back Isaiah Crowell (foot), who head coach Todd Bowles said is feeling pretty sore on Monday, and wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (ankle) who was removed late in the second quarter of Sundays Bills game.
Quarterback Sam Darnold (foot) is listed as questionable for Week 15, but coach Bowles expects him to be fine by Saturday.
The Texans defense is ranked 13th overall, but they hold opponents to the 5th lowest points allowed per game with 19.9 while allowing them to average a 20th ranked 348.9 total yards an outing.
Houstons run defense is ranked 5th in the league, while their pass defense is only ranked 24th, compiling a total of 13 interceptions (T-8th most) and 36 sacks (11th most).
Inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney has 87 combined tackles (T-29th most) and 5 quarterback hits, a forced fumble and 1.5 sacks.
Keep your eyes on J.J. Watt when the Texans are playing, especially now that hes healthy, and youll see sacks (12.5 so far, T-3rd most) as well as tackles (48 combined, 15 for loss), quarterback hits (22), passes defended (4) and forced fumbles (5).
Strong safety Justin Reid has 3 interceptions, one of which he ran back 101 yards for a touchdown in Week 11 against the Washington Redskins.
Outside linebacker Brennan Scarlett (ankle) was placed on injured reserve.
On average, any team playing the Jets will score 25.4 points and move the ball 375.8 total yards per game against their 27th ranked rush defense and 16th ranked pass defense.
Like their Week 15 opponents, the Jets have 13 interceptions (T-8th most) but only have 28 total sacks (T-25th).
Inside linebacker Avery Williamson has 103 tackles, 12th most in the NFL this season, which makes this his third 100+ tackle NFL season out of five.
Strong safety Jamal Adams can also tackle he has 89 to his name on top of 2.5 sacks, 7 quarterback hits, an interception, 12 passes defended, 3 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins has sacked 6.0 quarterbacks.
Cornerback Trumaine Johnson is tied for 6th most interceptions in the league with 4, returning one of them for a 31-yard touchdown in Week 13 against the Tennessee Titans.
Linebacker Darron Lee is out due to a four-game suspension for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.
Houstons punter, Trevor Daniel, an undrafted free agent this offseason, has punted 60 times for a net average of 39.2 yards per punt, ranked 26th in the NFL.
New Yorks punter, Lac Edwards, is in his third year and has been a Jet his entire NFL career.
So far, Edwards has punted 69 times for a net average of 40.3 yards per punt, ranked T-13th in the league.
Houstons placekicker, Kaimi Fairbairn, in his third season with the Texans, has gone 29-for-34, his longest was a 54-yarder.
Fairbairn has missed one extra point attempt (32/33).
New York placekicker, Jason Myers, in his fourth year, was picked up off waivers from Seattle in August and so far hes 30-for-32, which are the most field goals made in the NFL, his longest a 56-yarder.
Myers has missed one extra point attempts (24/25).
Houstons punt returner, wide receiver DeAndre Carter, was picked up on waivers from Philadelphia in November.
Carter is ranked 18th in the league in return average after returning 6 punts for 65 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 10.8 yards per return, his longest for 25 yards.
New Yorks punt returner, wide receiver Andre Roberts, is a nine-year veteran and is currently ranked 5th in the league in return average.
Roberts has returned 19 punts for 290 yards, averaging 15.3 yards per return, his longest for 78 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 against the Detroit Lions.
The oddsmakers have the Texans favored over the Jets by 6 with an over/under of 41.5.
CBSSports.com has two final score predictions:
Pete Prisco goes with the over and has it Texans 28, Jets 17
John Breech takes the over and predicts it Texans 27, Jets 20
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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