Jaguars vs. Texans 2012 game preview: Can Jacksonville pull the upset of the season?

Al Messerschmidt

In Joel Thorman's latest power rankings for SB Nation he ranked the Texans as the NFL's best team and the Jaguars as the NFL's worst.

When the Texans and Jaguars faced each other in Week 2, Blaine Gabbert and the Jacksonville offense managed an atrocious 117 yards of total offense. During the worst offensive performance in the history of the Jaguars, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt recorded 1.5 sacks and dominated throughout the game. Since then, the Texans have continued their dominant ways en route to an 8-1 record, while the Jaguars have stumbled and are already on the verge of elimination at 1-8.

If there's one thing that the Jaguars have done at a decent level, though, it's play on the road. None of the four road games played by the Jaguars were lost by a double-digit score, while each of the team's five home losses came by 17 points or more. However, with the exception of a home loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Texans have been dominant at home.

Meet the Texans

To reach the first 9-1 start in franchise history, the Texans could certainly use the help of Arian Foster. With a touchdown in each of his last 11 games and more than 100 yards rushing in each of his last two games, Foster is the catalyst for an offense that runs first to set up the pass. When it comes time to pass, Matt Schaub has been efficient enough to make the offense successful. With 51 yards on Sunday, Schaub will become player No. 98 to break 20,000 yards passing in his career.

It's probably more fair though, to give the credit to the defense for the success of the team in 2012. The unit that has yet to allow a rushing touchdown has given up the second fewest yards and third fewest points. In the last three games, the Texans defense has allowed a combined 28 points. Leading the charge is Watt, the league leader in sacks with 10.5 and the leader among defensive lineman in passes defensed.

Meet the Jaguars

Everything about the Jaguars offense has been bad in 2012. Ranked in last place in both points and yards, the unit has done very little right and things aren't looking like they'll be getting better anytime soon as Maurice Jones-Drew will still be out of the lineup in Week 11. Starting in his place has been Rashad Jennings, but that has been very unsuccessful. For any chance at the mammoth upset, the Jaguars will need strong play from Gabbert. The second-year quarterback has had a better season than his 2011 year, improving in almost every passing category, but was terrible in Week 2 against the Texans completing only 36.8 percent of his passes for 53 yards.

Complicating the problems of the offense has been the surprisingly poor play of the Jaguars defense. While it is missing many potential starters like Daryl Smith, Clint Session, Dwight Lowery and Rashean Mathis, the Jaguars defense has taken a stunning fall from No. 6 in the NFL in 2011 all the way to No. 27. Among the many defensive problems, the most concerning may be the lack of a pass rush. No Jaguars player has more than two sacks after the first nine weeks.

Local Takes: Texans

TexansDC from Battle Red Blog says that there is very little for the Texans to worry about and that they should handle business on Sunday:

In an ideal world, the Texans live up to their 'One Focus' mantra and dispatch the Jaguars by halftime to allow their starters a bit more rest with a Thursday game this week. A quick and boring (read: non-competitive, complete with a second-half filled with running) game will mean Houston answered the call of duty and took care of their business like a good team does.

Local Takes: Jaguars

Alfie Crow from Big Cat Country says that Gabbert will likely be the quarterback for the Jaguars in 2013:

Blaine Gabbert is currently on pace to throw for 3,000+ yards, 18 touchdowns and around 12-13 interceptions, which is about average in terms of NFL standards. Gabbert also looks noticeably better than he did his rookie season, but he was also atrocious as a rookie.

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Battle Red Blog and Big Cat Country, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@BattleRedBlog

Big Cat Country manager @AlfieBCC

Texans beat writer @TaniaGanguli

Jaguars beat writer @RyanOHalloran

Prediction

From the Week 11 picks:

Oh no. Our No. 1 ranked team hosts our No. 32 ranked team. The Texans are 15½ point favorites, which is incredible. The only question is how many touchdowns they win by.

The pick: 42-10, Texans

Odds

The Texans are favored by 15 over the Jaguars, the largest line of any Week 11 game, according to OddsShark.

Next Week

The Texans will play their first of a three-game road trip when they travel to face the Lions. The Jaguars will continue with AFC South play when they head back home to host the Titans.

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