12th meeting. The Texans lead the series, 6-5, with the Jaguars winning earlier this season 37-17.
The Jaguars are likely to feature the run against the Texans. Not only do they have a good running game but since the game means nothing to them, running the ball will take time off the clock and shorten the game. The Jaguars don't want to get in a shootout with the team when they have nothing at stake.
The game plan is pretty simple against the Jaguars this time around stop the run and run the ball. Against Jacksonville earlier this season, the Texans gave up 244 rushing yards. The defense let Jacksonville run wild on the field. The Texans didn't fare well against the run last week, and must shore it up if they are going to have a chance to win Sunday. They could get a boost if Fred Taylor rests up for the playoffs.
Offensively, the Texans will need Darius Walker and Ron Dayne to put together their best performance. The Texans mustered only 61 rushing yards earlier this year against the Jaguars. They will start running early and try to establish it in the first quarter.
The Texans will go with Sage Rosenfels again at quarterback. He is 3-1 in his starts this season, and 3-3 in his career. The Texans will also lean on Darius Walker again at running back. Ron Dayne continues to nurse a sore left ankle, but should be able to play a significant role in the game. He isn't practicing much, but because the Texans didn't play him against Indy, they hope to be able to rely on him Sunday.
Defensively, the Texans will not change much. Charlie Anderson may need to make another start in place of Danny Clark, who is still nursing a groin injury. Earl Cochran may play in place of Anthony Weaver, who has an injured shoulder. Tim Bulman will also be part of the rotation.
Jaguars LT Khalif Barnes vs. Texans RE Mario Williams. Williams, who is showing the Texans may not have made a mistake by making him the top pick in the draft a year ago, is having a good season and is likely to give Barnes a tough day.
Jaguars CBs Rashean Mathis and Brian Williams vs. Texans WR Andre Johnson. Johnson was injured when the teams played the first time and he figures to give the Jaguars cornerbacks a stiff challenge.
Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Texans run defense. The Texans struggled against the Colts, allowing 120 rushing yards to mostly backup running backs. The Texans didn't fare well the last time they played Jacksonville. They couldn't contain Jones-Drew or Taylor and gave up 244 rushing yards. This will likely be a matchup that favors the Jaguars.
Texans RB Darius Walker vs. Jaguars run defense. Neither Walker nor Dayne were activated against the Jaguars earlier this season. While Dayne may be healthy, he will not likely get all the carries. This will be a big game for Walker because he is still playing to make the roster next season. He will be motivated when he's on the field. It won't be easy for Walker. The Texans only rushed for 61 yards in the last outing.
DE Reggie Hayward missed the last three games with a groin injury, but isn't on the injury report this week. Now the question is whether he'll be held out to be in top shape for the playoffs. The Jaguars are in good shape with only three players LB Mike Peterson (broken hand), DE Paul Spicer (ankle) and CB Scott Starks (ankle) on the injury report. Peterson is already listed as out and Spicer is also likely to be held out. Starks, though, may play.
LB DeMeco Ryans (right knee) didn't practice, but could still start. He's been struggling the past two weeks.
DE Anthony Weaver (shoulder) didn't practice. He will not likely play.
RB Ron Dayne (left ankle) didn't practice. He is expected to play.
G Kasey Studdard (head, neck) is practicing and will play, if needed.
QB Matt Schaub (shoulder) participated in a little practice. The Texans hope he might be able to play backup to Sage Rosenfels this week, but that is still probably a long shot.
LB Danny Clark (groin) did not practice again. The Texans are hopeful that he can reach the field this week.
"It seems as if they almost built their team just to beat us." Running back Fred Taylor, on the Texans' success against the Jaguars even though they've never had a winning record.