Game Scout: Texans vs. Jaguars

Game Scout for the Houston Texans / Jacksonville Jaguars Matchup

MATCHUP: Houston Texans (3-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-1)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/14/07
TV: CBS, Gus Johnson, Steve Tasker (LOCAL BLACKOUT)

SERIES: 11th meeting. The Texans lead the series, 6-4, with the Texans winning three of five games in Jacksonville. Over the past three seasons, the winner of the first matchup has gone on to sweep the season series. The Texans swept the Jaguars last season. The defense lifted the Texans to a 13-10 victory on the road in Jacksonville last year by picking off Garrard four times.

PREDICTION: Jaguars 23-13

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Jaguars held Kansas City to just 10 rushing yards last weekend, but that won't stop the Texans from trying to get their struggling running game untracked. RB Ahman Green is expected to play, and coach Gary Kubiak desperately wants to run the ball effectively to take some of the burden off QB Matt Schaub, who is working with a depleted receiving crew. ... The Jaguars have had 18-play drives in each of their past two games, so the ball control approach is working. They lack big-play threats, but the Jaguars will pound away with RBs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew to provide low-stress passing situations for Garrard. However, the Texans won in Jacksonville last season by picking him off four times.

KEY INJURIES: Texans: WR Andre Johnson (knee) is out at least one more game; Green (knee) is expected to play; DT Travis Johnson (neck, knee) could see his snaps limited; WR Jacoby Jones (shoulder) has a chance to play. Jaguars: K Josh Scobee (quad strain) will again be replaced by John Carney; TE George Wrighster (knee) is uncertain.

FAST FACTS: The Texans have allowed just 35 second-half points, second-fewest in the NFL. ... Jaguars DT John Henderson has 5.5 career sacks against the Texans, his most against any opponent.

    --LB DeMeco Ryans (ankle) didn't practice again because of an ankle he turned during last week's game. He is still expected to play.

    --WR Jacoby Jones (shoulder) participated in more of practice and the coaches are hopeful that he will actually play this week. It will still be a game-time decision.

    --RB Ahman Green (knee) hasn't suffered a setback and is still on target to return to the field this week.

    --DT Travis Johnson (knee, neck) is still expected to play. He practiced in most of the repetitions Thursday.

    --RB Ron Dayne will still be relied on in different running situations even with Green back this week. He will mostly see action in short yardage situations or the fourth-quarter to wear down the defense and run time off the clock.

    --DE Reggie Hayward (hamstring) practiced Wednesday, but was limited Thursday and his condition will be updated Friday.

    --DE Paul Spicer (thigh) practiced Wednesday, but was limited Thursday and his condition will be updated Friday.

    --DE Marcus Stroud (ankle) practiced Wednesday, but was limited Thursday and his condition will be updated Friday.

    --RB Fred Taylor (groin) practiced Wednesday, but was limited Thursday and his condition will be updated Friday.

    --C Brad Meester, who's yet to play this season after undergoing surgery on a broken bone in his ankle during camp, practiced Thursday for the second straight day and may play Sunday.

    The Indianapolis Colts are aware of what's happening behind them. After three seasons of cruising to the AFC South division title, the Colts have some competition.

    There are seven teams in the AFC with winning records and four of those teams are in the AFC South. The Colts still have a firm grasp on the lead with a 5-0 record, but the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-1), Tennessee Titans (3-1) and Texans (3-2) are not far behind.

    It's the only division in the league in which every team has a winning record. All three games between division foes this season have been decided by less than a touchdown.

    "It is the toughest division in the league," Texans left tackle Ephraim Salaam said. "You can just look at the stats and see that."

    Last season, the Colts were the only team in the division to finish the regular season with a winning record. And for the third season in a row, the Colts have started 5-0.

    No one in the division is surrendering the division title to them yet this season, though.

    Texans owner Bob McNair didn't even try to cover up a big reason he liked the idea of drafting Mario Williams with the No. 1 overall in 2006. He wanted the pass rushing defensive end to help chase Peyton Manning.

    Last season, the Texans defeated the Colts for the first time in team history.

    Jacksonville and Tennessee have done similar things -- changing defensive schemes or drafting to bolster their defense first and offense second.

    "They're definitely the ones that everybody in the league is trying to beat," Jaguars quarterback David Garrard said. "They just won the Super Bowl last year. And with them being in our division, we have to definitely do everything possible to keep up with them."

    The Colts are being forced to look over their shoulders. They defeated the Titans, 22-20, in Week 2, and the Texans, 30-24, in Week 3. Their next game is against Jacksonville on Monday Night Football on Oct. 22.

    The only game between division foes this weekend is in Jacksonville where the Texans and Jaguars meet for the first time this season. The Texans swept the Jaguars last season. And the Jaguars lone loss this season came at the hands of the Titans, 13-10, in their season opener.

    "For real. That's the best way to describe the AFC South," Texans left guard Chester Pitts said. "We all have winning records early in the year. Shoot, when it comes down toward the season we're all going to knock each other off because they're all good teams and all are playing really good football."
    Running back Maurice Jones-Drew is likely to find his account a bit lighter Friday.

    After he scored on a 52-yard run in Kansas City last Sunday, he unveiled a new celebration. Drew acted as if the goal post were an ATM machine as he punched in the numbers.

    "It was pretty cool," he said. "We laughed our way all the way to the bank. We went to the ATM and took out a little cash. A lot of guys wanted to see it done."

    Unfortunately for Drew, his playful gesture could have positive consequences.

    Drew said the celebration wasn't a violation of league rules because he didn't use the ball as a prop. But a league spokesman said the players can't use the goal post as a prop, either.

    That means Drew is likely to find out Thursday that he's going to be fined. The 52-yarder was his only run longer than 52 yards this year. On his other 41 carries, he has only 130 yards.

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