Watch Video: Fantasy RBs to sit and start.
Two losses to Houston last year have played a big part in how the Jacksonville Jaguars have approached this season. For the Texans, those games seem to have been indicative of the progress being made under coach Gary Kubiak.
The Jaguars look to win four straight games for the first time in two years when they host the upstart Texans on Sunday.
Jacksonville was swept by AFC South rival Houston last season, essentially preventing the Jaguars from making the postseason. Wins in those two games— over a Texans team which would finish in last place at 6-10—would have given Jacksonville a wild-card berth.
The Jaguars won three of their first five games in 2006 before losing 27-7 in Houston, then won two straight before falling 13-10 at home to the Texans on Nov. 12.
Those letdowns were a big reason Jacksonville has been so concerned with consistency this year. This game is an ideal opportunity for the Jaguars (3-1) to show their mettle, as they try to win four in a row for the first time since a five-game winning streak from Nov. 6-Dec. 4, 2005.
“It’s been set up perfectly,” Jacksonville running back Fred Taylor said. “We’ve had two huge road wins and Houston has been the reason we talked about the roller-coaster thing. They play us hard, they play us tough. Now it’s time for us to do the same to them.”
The Jaguars, however, will be facing a Texans team that has a winning record after five games for the first time in franchise history. Houston (3-2) continues to make strides under Kubiak, whose wins over Jacksonville last season were among the team’s biggest highlights along with a late-season win over Super Bowl champion Indianapolis.
But Houston knows it has to improve - particularly on offense - if it hopes to maintain a winning record. The Texans needed a last-second, 57-yard field goal to beat winless Miami 22-19 last Sunday.
Houston’s running game has been ineffective since Ahman Green has been out with a bruised left knee.
The Texans are averaging 67.0 yards on the ground in three games since Green got hurt. They posted 114.0 yards per game in two games with Green, whose status for Sunday is uncertain.
“The bottom line is that we’re not running the ball well,” Kubiak said. “We have got to get better at running the ball. We’re going to continue to do that. We had ourselves in a tough position because we did not run the ball well.”
A struggling running game and a depleted receiving corps have hurt Matt Schaub, who has thrown two touchdown passes and three interceptions while getting sacked six times since Green’s last game. Schaub completed 20 of 34 passes for 294 yards against the Dolphins, but fumbled once and threw an interception.
“We’ve got to try to establish the run because we can’t let him drop back 35-40 times a week,” Kubiak said. “It’s just not going to be good for him in the long haul.”
Johnson has missed three straight games with a knee sprain, but has been making progress. Jones, who has a separated shoulder, has an “excellent chance” to return this week, according to Kubiak. Mathis, though, has been placed on injured reserve with a stress fracture in his leg.
If Green can’t play and the Texans’ injuries at receiver continue to limit their ability to stretch the field, they could be in trouble against the Jaguars defense.
Jacksonville has allowed an average of 9.3 points in its last three games after giving up a franchise-worst 282 yards rushing against Tennessee in its season opener. The Jaguars held Larry Johnson to 12 yards rushing, and had three sacks and an interception in a 17-7 win over Kansas City last Sunday.
“People had a few doubts about us, saying we may not be for real, but now everybody is seeing the defense they’re used to seeing,” Jaguars linebacker Mike Peterson said.
On offense, Jacksonville has dominated time of possession and is committing few turnovers. The Jaguars controlled the ball for nearly 37 minutes against the Chiefs, using a versatile running game led by Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew.
David Garrard has been precise, completing 67 percent of his passes for 848 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions to post a 105.4 passer rating. Garrard, though, has thrown four interceptions and just one touchdown in two career starts against Houston.
Blog Coverage from SB Nation
- There are many awful NFL rules. The sliding one might be worst.
- MVP Newton, Watt, Rivera, Berry big winners of NFL awards
- Carolina's Ron Rivera wins Coach of Year for 2nd time
- If Johnny Manziel wants help, NFL is ready to give it
- Chiefs CB Peters wins top defensive rookie award
- Von Miller, 2 other Broncos fined by NFL for AFC title game