HOUSTON - OCTOBER 30: Running back Arian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans avoids a tackle attempt by defensive lineman Jeremy Mincey #94 of the Jacksonville Jaguars at Reliant Stadium on October 30, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
They should beat the Jaguars, but will they?
The Texans got the win they were supposed to last week and by the end of the game the score looked like what it was supposed to, but it wasn't pretty. Whether it's by twenty points or two points, a win is a win and looks the same in the standings, but the Texans definitely have things to work on going into week two. The Texans started off very sluggish last week and even trailed 3-0 early on in the second quarter, but towards the end of the half the defense forced four turnovers thanks in large part to the effort from J.J. Watt. The defense is good enough to carry the team and win games for them this year, but the slow starts from the offense can't become a trend because bailing out the offense in games against the Patriots and Packers will be a much tougher task then against the Dolphins. This week the Texans face a better team than they did in week one, but still a team they should beat fairly easily. The Jaguars are a young team at many positions and an injured team at other positions, and don't have the overall talent to compete with the Texans if the the Texans play their 'A' game.
Texans Offense vs. Jaguars Defense:
The run game of the Texans struggled last week against Miami and could have similar problems this week in Jacksonville. In their first meeting last season the Texans ran for 159 yards, but on just 4.0 yards per carry; half a yard under their season average. In their second meeting, the Texans rushed for 88 yards on 31 carries; a pathetic 2.83 yards per carry. To be fair, the last game was without Schaub so the Jaguars crowded the box and sold out against the run the entire game, so the number was artificially deflated. Overall the Jaguars ranked ninth in rushing yards allowed and were tied for fourth in rushing yards per carry allowed (3.8) last season. If the right side of the Texans line doesn't improve, the rushing lanes will again be small and force the offense again to win the game with the passing game. Matt Schaub is capable of beating the Jaguars through the air, but a balanced attack that doesn't expose the quarterback to possibly taking more hits is preferable. I don't think the Jaguars have anyone in the secondary that can stop Andre Johnson, but if starting cornerback Derek Cox misses the game (he's questionable), the Texans will torch the Jaguars. Much like last week, I expect the Texans to have more success and be more efficient through the air than on the ground.
Texans Defense vs. Jaguars Offense:
The Jaguars took Gabbert in the top 10 of the 2011 draft and he struggled to say the least during his rookie season. Overall in 2011 Gabbert threw for 2,214 yards (147.6 per game), completed just 50.8% of his passes, with 12 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. Many people, including myself, were ready to write off Gabbert as a bust after his rookie season, but he's shown improvement during the pre-season this year and in their week one game against the Vikings. During the pre-season, Gabbert completed 61% of his passes and threw three touchdowns and zero interceptions. In their week one loss to Minnesota, Gabbert threw for 260 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Of course, it was just the pre-season and it was just the Vikings, but the Gabbert of last year would have stunk even in those scenarios. This week against the Texans will be his first true test to whether or not he's turned the corner. The Texans intercepted three passes last week against the Dolphins; I expect them to put pressure on Gabbert consistently and force at least one interception on Sunday.
I'm not worried about Gabbert beating them, but I am concerned about Maurice Jones-Drew. The Texans gave up 4.9 yards per carry to Reggie Bush last week but it only resulted in 69 yards because the Dolphins fell behind too far to run the ball once Tannehill threw three picks in the second quarter. Jones-Drew is obviously a better back than Bush and I don't expect the Jaguars to turn the ball over four times. If the Jaguars defense is able to keep the game close and the Texans rush defense doesn't improve from last week; Jones-Drew could have a huge game. Even against a great Texans rush defense last year and with a rookie quarterback the Texans didn't have to respect, Jones-Drew averaged 4.5 yards per carry. If Gabbert is improved and the Texans don't stop the run any better than last week, Jones-Drew could go for 125+ yards easily.
The Jaguars Can Win If...
Maurice Jones-Drew rushes for 150 yards and controls the clock keeping the Texans offense off the field.
The Texans run game struggles again this week and makes the offense one-dimensional.
Blaine Gabbert's turnaround is legit and he posts numbers similar to what he did in week one.
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