Last season, the Jacksonville Jaguars lost the season series to Houston Texans 2-0; it could possibly speak volumes on the improvement of the Texans – or maybe not. Regardless, the two teams lock up on Sunday in a key divisional matchup in which the Jaguars hope to win four in a row for the first time in 2 years.
The Texans have work to do on their running attack (85.8 yards per game – 25th overall); leading the way lately has been running back Ron Dayne (62 rushes, 179 yards, 1 touchdown). The status of starting RB Ahman Green (knee) in uncertain but is listed as questionable for this weekend. Quarterback Matt Schaub (111-of-157, 1,299 yards, 5 TD’s, 4 INT’s) is what makes this offense go. Joining him in the offesnive display is tight end Owen Daniels (24 catches, 293 yards) and wide receiver Andre Davis (13-266-1 TD). The improving defense is led by linebacker DeMeco Ryans (42 tackles, 37 solo, 1 sack), and two of the better young defensive lineman in the league today – defensive end Mario Williams (3 sacks) and rookie defensive tackle Amobi Okoye (4 sacks).
Tha Jaguars are quite good at ball control by using their running attack, led by the duo of RB’s Fred Taylor (55-207) and Maurice Jones-Drew (42-182-1 TD); the passing game is efficient, in a word. QB David Garrard (68-of-102, 848 yards, 4 TD’s, zero INT’s) won’t remind you of Peyton Manning, but at the same time he’s way better than ex-Jaguar (current Falcon) QB Byron Leftwich. But it is their defense that is their calling card. Not a bunch of superstars on this team, yet they can rely on LB Mike Peterson (22 tackles, 21 solo, 2 sacks) and defensive tackle Marcus Stroud (2.5 sacks) to keep teams honest, especially on passing downs.
Houston’s chance to win will rely on their running game (as mediocre as it may be) and a strong effort by their offensive line. Schaub will also need to exploit the Jags’ secondary initially as the Jags’ defense is of the “bend-but-don’t-break” variety. A decent pass rush by both Williams and Okoye would help towards that end, as well. The Jaguars, in order to win, will be by their usual modus operandi – ball control and ample doses of Taylor and Jones-Drew. And like the Texans, they will need to blitz on occasion. I look for Schaub to be somewhat effective vs. the Jags’ secondary and the Jaguars running game to be somewhat neutralized as the Texans win this one on the road and break the Jags’ current 3-game winning streak.