When the Jacksonville Jaguars face off against the Houston Texans on Sunday, they'll look to make it three wins in a row against their division rival. A win on Sunday would also move the Jaguars ahead in the all-time series, which currently stands tied at 8-8. The Jaguars were able to sweep the Texans last season, beating them 31-24 in Houston and 23-18 at home in Jacksonville. Oddly enough, the win against Houston at home was the Jaguars last victory of the 2009 season, as they went on to lose four straight to close out the season.
In the two victories last season, the Jaguars were aided by some boneheaded and back breaking mistakes by the Houston Texans. Running back Chris Brown fumbled a ball on the two-yard line right before the two minute warning and Jacksonville recovered, letting them run the clock out to seal the victory. This was only one of two costly redzone turnovers in the meetings between the two teams last season.
In the meeting in Jacksonville, Texans starting quarterback Matt Schaub was injured on the Texans first offensive play of the game when he was sacked by Derrick Harvey. The Jaguars took advantage of a Texans offense that was inept with back-up quarterback Rex Grossman and jumped out to a 17-0 lead. Matt Schaub re-entered the game in the middle of the second quarter and the Texans came roaring back. Late in the fourthquarter withthe score 23-12, the Texans marched right down to the five-yard line, only to have running back Chris Brown again turn the ball over. The Texans called a half back pass, and instead of Brown simply running or going down with the football, he heaved it into the end zone where it was intercepted by safety Gerald Alexander. It would prove a costly mistake as on their next drive the Texans scored a touchdown, putting the game at 23-18.
On Sunday the Jaguars will face a Houston Texans defense who's actually ranked lower than the Jaguars, at dead last in overall defense. This bodes well for the Jaguars, as the highest ranked defense they've beaten is the Dallas Cowboys (currently 17th) who looked like they've given up. This is one thing the Jaguars have done right this season, is beat the teams they should beat.
Jaguars quarterback David Garrard should be in line for another good showing, facing the worst pass defense in the entire NFL. The Texans are giving up just 1.8 yards per game shy of 300 passing yards a game, not to mention only the Buffalo Bills (1) have less interceptions than the Houston Texans (5). For a team with a premier pass rusher like Mario Williams, the Texans also struggle sacking the quarterback.
While the Jaguars atrocious pass defense will be facing an explosive passing offense and running back in Arian Foster, the defense they're facing should be bad enough to let their offense match scores. As we've seen in 8 games now, the Jaguars struggle against good defense because they get behind and are forced to pass the football. When the Jaguars can run the football and score, they're at their best and they can win.
Like last season when the Texans came to town and the Jaguars were sitting at 6-5 in the playoff picture, they're in the same boat at 4-4. The Jaguars are only a game behind in the division right now, and their best bet to make the playoffs is to win the division. Beating a division foe will only help them accomplish that goal.