Sunday, December 30th, 2007
1:00 p.m., Reliant Stadium
Kickoff temperature: 65 degrees, 10% chance of precipitation
Line: Texans by 6.5
Houston offense- T13th overall (9th passing, 24th rushing); Scoring-15th- 22.5 ppg. Vs. Jacksonville defense- 11th overall (18th passing, 7th rushing); Scoring- 6th- 17.5 ppg.
This is a game that will be tough to break down, being that it means nothing as far as the
playoffs are concerned. The Jaguars have already clinched the #5 seed and will likely rest
many of their starters. The Texans will be playing for .500, a mark that the team has
reached just once in franchise history.
It is unclear at this point whether the Texans will start Matt Schaub or Sage Rosenfels at quarterback. Regardless of the signal caller, the Texans will likely try to throw early and often against a Jacksonville defense which has done a fantastic job of stopping the run for much of the year. Schaub or Rosenfels' main target is Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson, who has been injured on and off this year. Other threats in the passing game for the Texans are tight end Owen Daniels, and wide receivers Andre Davis, Jacoby Jones, and Kevin Walter.
The Texans don't run the ball well, but when they do, their featured back is former Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne, who has nearly 700 rushing yards on the season.
The Texans will likely try to expose the Jaguars safeties through the deep passing game, as Andre Davis and Kevin Walter have been playing well along side of Andre Johnson. The Texans will likely try to go to Schaub's favorite possession guy, Owen Daniels, especially when he's covered by one of the Jaguars safeties.
Defensively, the Jaguars will try and slow down a very formidable Texans passing attack. The Texans have plenty of speed on the outside with Jacoby Jones and Andre Davis, as well as Andre Johnson, and a big possession guy in tight end Owen Daniels.
Defensively, Houston will likely try and stop the Jaguars rushing attack which has been
very successful this season, regardless of who is running the football. The Texans front
four consists of former first round draft picks, Mario Williams, Amobi Okoye, Travis Johnson, and former Baltimore Raven, Anthony Weaver. The Texans linebackers are headed by
captain, and last season's defensive rookie of the year, DeMeco Ryans, along with Morlon Greenwood and former Jaguar, Danny Clark. Williams is having the year that the Texans
envisioned out of him when they made him the first overall pick in the draft before the
2006 season. Williams has 55 tackles and an AFC leading 14 sacks.
In the secondary for Houston will be cornerbacks Von Hutchins and Fred Bennett. The Texans safeties are Will Demps and C.C. Brown, who are the weak links of their defense.
We don't expect to see much of Jaguars starting quarterback David Garrard, or running back Fred Taylor in this one. The offense will likely rely on Quinn Gray, who has played well in spurts this season. Gray has completed 55 of 105 passes for 684 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions in his limited play. Expect to see Greg Jones and LaBrandon Toefield at running back, and a lot of Matt Jones on the field at wide receiver.
Texans kickoff return- 3rd (25.0 ypr.); punt return- 23rd (8.2 ypr.); punting- 20th (41.9 gross); net punting- 15th (39.1 avg.); kickoff coverage- 22nd (23.6 ypr. allowed); punt coverage- 13th (8.4 ypr allowed)
Jaguars kickoff return- 13th (23.3 ypr.); punt return- 7th (10.5 ypr.); punting- 26th (41.0 gross); net punting- 25th (37.6 avg.); kickoff coverage- 1st (17.6 ypr. allowed); punt coverage- 8th (7.0 ypr. allowed)
Texans: PK Kris Brown , P Matt Turk, LS Bryan Pittman, KOR Andre Davis, PR Jacoby Jones
Brown is 25/29 on field goals with a long of 57 yards. Davis is averaging 27.2 yards per
return on kickoffs, and Jones is averaging 9.1 yards per punt return.
Scobee is 12/13 on field goals with a long of 48 yards. Jones-Drew is averaging 26.2 yards
per kickoff return. Northcutt is averaging 9.2 yards per punt return. Scott Starks will
likely see time as a kickoff returner this week and possibly at punt returner
The Texans have a more explosive special teams return unit with a better kicker and punter. This is one area where Houston has a decided advantage.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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