Jags Defense Has a Different Test This Sunday

Coming off an emotional victory Monday night, Jacksonville has to quickly refocus to take on one of the best offenses in football in Houston in a must win situation.

The Jaguars, who haven't played a division game for six weeks after beating Tennessee in the opener, will return to AFC South action Sunday at Houston.

The Jaguars will then have a bye before playing four more division games in their final eight -- at Tennessee, home against Houston and two games with Indianapolis.

Houston leads the division at 4-3, and Tennessee is second at 3-3.

The Texans took over first place by a half-game by routing the Titans 41-7 Sunday.

However, if the Jaguars can sweep their final five division games, they could have a shot at winning the division title.

The Jaguars lost 34-17 at Houston in the season finale last year, but they had beaten the Texans in the three previous meetings.

In the teams' matchup last year at Jacksonville, the Jaguars won 31-24 on a Hail Mary pass on the final play of the game.

The main problem for the Jaguars will be scoring enough to match a Houston offense that put up 41 points against Tennessee without Andre Johnson.

The Jaguars have a rookie quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, who shows a lot of promise for the future but has started only five games and is still suffering growing pains.

Jacksonville has a good running game spearheaded by Maurice Jones-Drew, who appears headed for his third consecutive Pro Bowl, but the Texans figure to stack the box and force Gabbert to throw.

Gabbert's also handicapped by not having a top-notch receiver corps to throw to. Mike Thomas, the Jaguars' No. 1 receiver, is best suited to being a slot receiver, and the other starter, Jason Hill, was cut by San Francisco last year.

They are so desperate for wide receivers that they brought back Mike Sims-Walker even though they didn't make him an offer before he left as a free agent and he was cut by the Browns.

Jacksonville also has injury problems in the offensive line. Eben Britton had a flareup of a back problem a week ago, and it is uncertain if he can play. If he can't, rookie Will Rackley, who was benched earlier, will have to play left guard. Britton is usually a right tackle but has played left guard in place of Rackley when he's been healthy. Guy Whimper is now playing right tackle.

Like the Houston defense, the Jacksonville defense is much improved this year, but it doesn't have much margin for error because the offense is struggling.

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