Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans: A Monday Night Special
Yes, that is an awful lot of struggling.
The Jaguars (4-7) have been better on the road than at home this season, with their only home victory this year coming against these very same Texans, and by three points in overtime.
The Texans (4-7) will have to win out to best last season's franchise record eight wins. They have struggled all year to establish a consistent passing game and look to get back on track against the Jags.
This game isn't about playoffs, it's about pride. The Jaguars haven't finished last in the AFC South ever, and the Texans haven't finished better than last since 2004, the only time they have ever finished above fourth.
If the Jags win this game, they will maintain control of third place in the South.
If the Texans win it, the Jags will fall to fourth.
Here are my keys to the game:
Run the ball. It seems so simple, and yet the Jags have been ineffective all season. You can't blame it on the running backs, Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor are two very good players. The Jaguars running problems start on the offensive line, specifically at the guard positions. If the Jags can control the line of scrimmage, they will be able to run effectively.
Key Match Up: Right tackle Tony Pashos will be taking on Mario Williams, and he did a good job blocking him early in the year at home. The question is will this match up be different now that Mario is ready for Pashos? If Garrard hits the ground, the Jags will not win this game.
Play defense! If you let Andre Johnson burn you, you will be sorry. He is, in my opinion, the best wide receiver in the game. He will make you hurt.
Key Match Up: Andre Johnson against Rashean Mathis. Mathis is a great cover corner, and Johnson is an amazing receiver. It'll be a game of cat and mouse all day.
The Texans must get in a groove on offense early. They need to establish the running game with Slaton and get some deep balls off to Johnson early.
Key Match up: The Texans O-Line against the Jags D-Line. If the Texans don't control the point of attack, they won't be able to run the ball. And if they can't run, they can't pass.
They must also get good play from the special teams. This is going to be a hard fought game, and the Texans need every big play they can get.
Key Match Up: Jags return man Brian Witherspoon against the Texans cover unit. Witherspoon has not had particularly sticky hands this year, so look for the Texans to try to take advantage of that.
Overall, this should be a hard fought battle. I give a slight edge to the Texans in this one, though, because they are at home.
A projected final of 21-17, Texans take the game.
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