The Texans won Sunday on the strength of their defense and running game; they arguably had their best effort in both areas earlier in the year during their week two 27-7 win over Jacksonville. It wasn't their biggest win in terms of importance or margin of victory, but I believe it was their most dominant win. They've had several blowout victories this year, but that was the only game this season where I never felt the other team had even the slightest chance to win. The Texans won the first meeting by 20 on the road and are the biggest favorite on the board this week with the spread as high as 17 points on one website at the time I wrote this article.
Here are a few keys to the game:
The second year quarterback seems to be headed down the same path of David Carr. The Jaguars rank 26th in sacks allowed and the hits he's taken combined with not having targets capable of getting open quickly have made him look shell shocked. In the earlier game against the Texans it appeared that Gabbert didn't even look more than 10 yards down field and too often looked for his dump off option right away. Gabbert finished the game 7-19 for 53 yards, but if you take off his long completion of 32 yards, his other six completions went for an average of 3.5 yards. Maybe Gabbert would have turned out this way even with a good offensive line and reliable weapons to throw to, but either way it doesn't take much to rattle him. If the Texans can pressure him early, be in his face and around his legs quickly as he drops back, they can take him out of the game mentally before halftime.
Run The Ball All Game
The Jaguars rank 29th in rushing yards allowed per game and 31st in rushing touchdowns allowed this season. In their earlier game this season, the Texans ran for 216 yards; the Texans next highest total this season is 181 yards. Arian Foster had 110 rushing yards in their last meeting, I expect him to easily surpass that number this weekend. Even if Ben Tate were to miss another game, there's no reason to expect the Texans to rush for less than 175 yards against Jacksonville. The Jaguars could choose to load the box and take away the run, but that strategy would likely lead to them getting beat deep by the playaction pass. In their last meeting the Jaguars chose to play their safeties deep, keep everything in front of them and limit big plays. They managed to hold Schaub under 200 passing yards, but with only seven men in the box, the Texans ran all over them. The Jaguars simply don't have enough talent on defense to stop the Texans. They can play their safeties back and suffer a slow death against the run, or load the box and die quickly from the passing game; either way the Texans are going to kill them.