When the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4) and Houston Texans (5-3) class in London this Sunday, the two teams will be fighting for a pivotal leg up in the AFC South divisional race, and each team knows it will be a battle.
The Jaguars have won two straight games to get back to .500, while the Texans have won three of their last four games and have been led by an MVP candidate in quarterback Deshaun Watson. These are two teams that are rolling right now and are trending upwards in the second half of the season.
With the Jaguars playing as well as they have the last two weeks, Texans head coach Bill O'Brien knows his team has a challenge. Houston barely beat Jacksonville in Week 2, a 13-12 victory after a controversial two-point conversion by Jacksonville failed. Plus, it can be argued that the version of the Jaguars the Texans will see this week are vastly improved from the Week 2 version.
"We have to do as good of a job as we can being prepared and ready to go because they are playing really well right now," O'Brien told local media Tuesday.
In the Jaguars, O'Brien said he sees a team that is clicking in most areas of the game right now. And it was clear to gauge the level of respect he has specifically for the Jaguars' defense, who recorded eight sacks and three turnovers against the Jets in Week 8.
And when JaguarMaven asked O'Brien about his impressions of the Jaguars' secondary, he just started rattling off names of defenders who have stood out, because there are simply so many of them.
"They are playing well. I mean, A.J. Bouye is playing well, (Tre) Herndon is playing well, Ronnie Harrison is playing well. Then you look up front and you see, obviously, Calais Campbell," O'Brien said. "Josh Allen, (Yannick) Ngakoue, Taven Bryan, I mean that guy is a really good football player, (and) Myles Jack. I mean, where do you want me to stop? They have really top to bottom on defense, they have excellent players. "
The Jaguars' defense has also had success against Houston previously this season, as they held the Texans to their lowest point total of the season in Week 2. The Jaguars unit that struggled that week was instead their offense, but O'Brien sees positives things there, too.
"Leonard Fournette is a great player. He is one of the better running backs in the league. He can do it all," O'Brien said. "They are doing a great job of getting him the ball in the running game, in the passing game. He is a hard guy to tackle. He is big, he is instinctive, he has good vision. He is a hell of a player."
As for rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, who has taken the league by storm since replacing an injured Nick Foles in the lineup in Week 1, O'Brien says he sees a "playmaker" who is comfortable in Jacksonville's scheme and has the look of a guy who is simply having a lot of fun.
And when it comes to Minshew's weapons on the perimeter, O'Brien notes how impressed he is with the development of DJ Chark, someone he got a chance to coach up close before the 2018 NFL Draft.
"We had Chark at the Senior Bowl a couple of years ago," he said.
"Just watching him come into the league as one of the better gunners in the league on the punt team and then develop into one of the better receivers in the league, that says a lot about DJ. He is a hard-working guy and he is doing a great job for them."
Whoever wins Sunday's game will find themselves in a good spot moving forward, as each team would be halfway through their division schedule while having a winning record. And when it comes to the Jaguars, O'Brien knows they will be no pushover.