Sunday, October 14, 1:00 p.m., Jacksonville Municipal Stadium
Kickoff temperature: 80 degrees
Records: Houston 3-2, fourth place in the AFC South; Jacksonville 3-1, tied for second place in the AFC South
Line: Jaguars by 6.5
Five most important things for the Jaguars:
1. Don't fall in. Although we all know the history of the Texans beating up on the Jaguars, this is still a trap game with the huge Monday nighter a little over a week away against the rested Colts. The elite teams in the NFL really do take the schedule one week at a time and this will be a nice test of the Jaguars maturity. The Jaguars must come out firing and take control of this game if they are going to position themselves to be talked about nationally (positive) next week.
2. Impose your will. The Texans front seven is very much improved. The Jaguars need to continue to pound opponents on the ground and play their game. Fred Taylor needs to have a big game if he's going to be able to approach the 10,000 yard mark by next week.
3. Take some deep shots. The Houston safeties aren't very good, and although Dunta Robinson is a solid corner, DeMarcus Faggins on the opposite side can be picked on. Use the strong running game to set up some deep balls, that will open up everything underneath.
4. Contain Matt Schaub. Although Schaub isn't the running threat of a Vince Young or David Garrard, he is very fast when he gets out of the pocket. Schaub can pick up first downs with his legs, and the Texans love to run bootlegs.
5. Cover Owen Daniels. Last week in Kansas City, Tony Gonzalez had a monster game picking on Jaguars safety Sammy Knight. Daniels is the Texans main possession threat with Andre Johnson injured, and he figures to play a pretty large part in their game plan.
1. Look for a dance by Maurice Jones-Drew. Jones-Drew has been running better each week, and his success will likely continue, and probably include at least one trip to the end zone.
2. Look for a big play from Andre Davis. Davis is quickly turning into the Texans deep threat, and he has a reception of over 40 yards in each game he's played in this year.
3. Look for a big day by Mario Williams. The Jaguars tackles have been struggling mightily with pass protection, and Williams is playing at a very high level, proving to many why he was chosen number one overall last year. Look for Williams to get in the sack column.
4. Look for another big day by David Garrard. Garrard has looked better each week as he's gained more confidence, and it could translate big this week in the stat column. Garrard should torch a Texans secondary that has just one really good player in Dunta Robinson. Look for Garrard to have a 100+ rating for the fourth straight game.
5. There will be a big special teams play in this game. Both teams have fine return men, in Jerome Mathis and Maurice Jones-Drew respectively, and both teams have taken their special teams to another level this year. I expect to see something extraordinary out of one of these units.
Head coach Jack Del Rio when asked if he thought it was important for some of the younger players to understand the Texans-Jaguars rivalry--
"I really don't believe in trying to find motivation out of things that happened in the past, good or bad. I think what's most important is our preparation this week, understanding where their strengths are, where the weaknesses are, preparing our football team to execute at a high level to play with intensity and purpose and desire, come out here and be the hungry football team that's going after people, and that's what we have to do."
These aren't the Texans of years past, this is a very competitive team. That being said, the Texans of years past always seemed to dominate the Jaguars. Without Andre Johnson or Ahman Green at 100%, Houston will not have enough weapons to go against a Jaguars defense that's playing at a very high level. The Jaguars offense has been working the bugs out each week and quarterback David Garrard is playing the best football of his career. Final score: Jaguars 27, Texans 13.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer.