The Jacksonville Jaguars look to try and notch their first win of the season, in the 2012 home opener against the reigning AFC South champion, and Super Bowl hopeful Houston Texans, this Sunday at EverBank Field in Jacksonville.
Jacksonville and Houston each kick off their divisional schedule this week, and while the Jaguars enter the game with a record of 0-1, a win against the Texans would leave both teams at 1-1, with Jacksonville getting the early divisional tie breaker advantage. The two teams have developed somewhat of a bitter rivalry over the first decade of Houston's existence, with some memorable moments and match ups.
While the Texans will be the heavy favorites going into Sunday's game, the Jaguars have historically played the Texans close, regardless of any personnel advantages on either side. With that said, here are three things to watch for the Texans, as they try to remain undefeated and put some early distance between themselves and the Jaguars in the AFC South.
1. High Wattage
Here are four words that Jaguars fans can expect to read/hear for a very long time, J.J. WATT IS GOOD. Not only is he a beast against the run, as most 34 Base ends are, but he has a special knack for getting to the quarterback both in sacks and, as Adam pointed out yesterday, in batting away balls like he was the ugly chick in the group of attractive women. Watt continued what he started in his rookie year this past Sunday, as he accounted for 3 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 3 passes deflected. The Texans like to move him around to the weakest of the opposing team's weak side of the line, so that means a lot of Guy Whimper for Watt, which I'm sure J.J. is more than happy with seeing. Against the Jaguars last year, Watt registered 12 tackles and 2 sacks, in the teams two match ups. If the Texans are going to put pressure on Blaine Gabbert, it'll start with Watt demanding the attention of a double team, which he is more than capable of doing. It will be interesting to see how the Jaguars handle him, as guard Uche Nwaneri had his own troubles against Watt as well last year.
2. On Holliday!
The Texans feature a potentially dynamic return man in Trindon Holliday. With his world class sprinter speed and quick twitch agility, the former LSU star can quickly become a nightmare for a team like the Jaguars, who have shown some leaks in what is usually a strong special teams coverage unit. Holliday fielded 3 kickoffs last week against the Miami Dolphins, netting 47 yards in the return game, as well as bringing back a punt for 14 yards. The Jaguars did an average job of keeping Percy Harvin from gaining much in yardage on kicks, but Holliday is more explosive in the return game and needs to be treated as such. One interesting fact of note, the Texans have returned more kicks back for touchdowns against the Jaguars, than any other team in the league, with 2. Both returns occured during the same game, as Andre Davis returned two kicks for touchdowns in 2007.
3. The "Other Guys"
Andre Johnson gets all the national love and publicity as the Texans main big play target in the passing game, but for as much maligned as Houston's other receivers have been, they are not without their weapons outside of the veteran All-Pro. Receiver Kevin Walter and tight end Owen Daniels are both guys that can, and have, made big plays particularly against the Jaguars. Since 2006, Walter and Daniels have accounted for 53 receptions for 697 yards & 4 touchdowns and 37 receptions for 459 yards & 4 touchdowns respectively, against the Jaguars. Add in rookies Lester Jean and Keshawn Martin, whom the Jaguars liked a lot out of Michigan St., and the Texans have the potential to exploit a somewhat average at the moment Jaguars secondary.