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Week 11: Jaguars-Texans preview

The SportsXchange

Jacksonville at Houston

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Reliant Stadium, Houston - TV: CBS; DirecTV: 709

*TV announcers: Bill Macatee, Steve Tasker

*Keys to the game: RB Maurice Jones-Drew isn't expected to be ready until at least Week 12, severely increasing the Jaguars' uphill slope just to be within shouting distance at halftime. Head coach Mike Mularkey said Jacksonville isn't winning enough battles up front, but Rashad Jennings' shortcomings have been on full display as he has managed just 131 combined yards while averaging 3.3 yards per carry in starting the past three games. Houston sports one of the league's best run defenses, which is the table-setter for the Texans' fierce pass rush. The Jaguars expect QB Blaine Gabbert (non-throwing shoulder) to be in the lineup, but he won't last long if he's in constant obvious passing downs, staring down the barrel of DE J.J. Watt & Co. while lacking receivers who create consistent separation. Houston's offensive gameplan rarely waivers, and the Texans will ram the ball down the Jaguars' (137.4 rushing yards per game) throats until Jacksonville proves it can stop the ground game and force the Texans to open up the passing game.

*Matchup to watch - Jaguars MLB Paul Posluszny vs. Texans RB Arian Foster: Posluszny remains a tackling machine who is tied for the Jaguars' lead with 70 combined this season (56 solo, 14 assisted). Not only does he need to diagnose and react quickly when Foster gets the ball, but has to get the Jaguars aligned properly pre-snap. Jacksonville's run defense was solid against the Colts' backfield committee, but Houston's zone-blocking scheme creates cut-back lanes Posluszny & Co. must shut down.

*Player spotlight - Jaguars WR Laurent Robinson: He has 15 catches in two games since returning from a concussion, but also lost a fumble last week. Robinson is Gabbert's most consistent downfield weapon, and Jacksonville must find a few big plays in the passing game.

*Fast facts: Gabbert has thrown five touchdowns and no interceptions with a 91.2 passer rating on the road this season. ... Watt had 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hits in the first meeting.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The Texans charged out to a 17-0 lead in Jacksonville in Week 2 and cruised to an easy 27-7 win. The teams have continued to go in opposite directions since, and there is nothing to indicate the Jaguars will pose a threat come the fourth quarter.

*Our pick: Texans 33-16
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