South for the Winter

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December 23, 2004
South for the Winter
by Jimmy Mohr

After spending last Sunday in the freezing cold of the NFC North, the Houston Texans travel to Jacksonville to visit the Jaguars in warm and sunny Florida. The Texans defeated the Bears last Sunday in the coldest weather ever recorded for a game at Soldier Field. The Jaguars were just a snowballs throw away in Green Bay where they toppled Brett Favre and the Packers.

The Texans won big but it was ugly. The offense decided to show up in the fourth quarter when their final two drives yielded 10 points to put the game out of reach. The defense stepped up big, limiting the Bears to only 202 net yards. In fact, the Texans defense outscored the Bears offense, 6-3. Dunta Robinson was the man, with an interception, a forced fumble, a sack and tied for the team lead in tackles.

The Jaguars are back in the thick of the AFC Wild Card race after winning two in a row following a three game losing streak. The Jags are 4-3 at home this season and are in a must-win situation. Revenge should also be on the minds of the Jacksonville players having lost in Houston, 20-6, in week 8.

Offensively, at least on paper, the Jaguars (13th overall) and Texans (T-16th) are fairly even. The distinct difference is on the defensive side of the ball where the Jags are 12th and the Texans are ranked 27th. Houston has allowed 64 more points than Jacksonville, but has been playing better as of late.

What to Expect

When the Texans have the ball…
Chris Palmer must have dozed off last week because David Carr actually threw the ball downfield a few times. Domanick Davis has come on in recent weeks and has become the workhorse of the Texans’ offense. The big question is where has Andre Johnson gone? The 1,000 yard receiver, and mewly minted Pro Bowler, has nearly disappeared in recent weeks. The Jaguars are ranked 19th against the pass and are 8th in rushing yards allowed, so this may be his week.

When the Jaguars have the ball…
Byron Leftwich isn’t exactly lighting up the sky with gaudy numbers, but he is getting the job done. His favorite target is Jimmy Smith, who has 69 catches for 1,133 yards and six touchdowns on the season. In week 8, Smith torched the Texans for 117 yards on 9 receptions, but failed to score. Regardless, no other Jaguar player has scored more than two touchdowns so watch for Smith in the red zone. Running back Fred Taylor is having a solid season with 1,224 yards, but was limited to three carries for nine yards in the first meeting between these teams.

Match-Ups to Watch

Domanick Davis vs. Fred Taylor
Fred Taylor has rushed for over 100 yards in four of the last six games, but has only one touchdown to show for it. Davis has eclipsed the century mark in two of his last four and needs 73 yards to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark for the second consecutive season. Both back’s are hot, and a big part of their team’s offense. Whichever of these two has the bigger game, should come out victorious.

Dunta Robinson vs. Jimmy Smith
Week 8 must seem like an eternity ago to Dunta Robinson. Robinson had his best game as a professional last weekend in the bitter cold of Chicago. He is making a strong push for defensive rookie of the year and leads the team in interceptions with six. Smith had a big game against the Texans in week 8, but Robinson’s confidence level has to be at an all-time high. This should be fun to watch.

Texans O-Line vs. Jaguars D-Line
Has the zone blocking scheme been proven a failed experiment? How many times does David Carr have to run for his life before something is done? Domanick Davis has had decent rushing games lately, but whenever Carr drops back to pass, there is a defensive lineman bearing down on him. Carr needs more time to throw the football; his completion percentage for two of the last three games has been in the 40’s.

Three Keys to Victory

1. Special Teams
Kris Brown and Chad Stanley have struggled of late. Brown has made only four of his last nine field goal attempts. Chad Stanley averaged 30.7 yards per punt last week on seven attempts. Furthermore, Stanley’s net average has been in the 20’s in two of the last three weeks. With the Texans’ offense not exactly lighting up the scoreboard, field position and three pointers are keys.

2. Stop the Run
Fred Taylor has been on a streak in recent weeks. Taylor is primarily a first and second down back. He has rushed the ball 145 times on first down for a 4.1 average and 97 times on second down with an average of 6.1 yards per carry. He is not a threat to score unless he breaks a long one, but look for him to be used early and often. The Texans defense did a solid job last week against the run after the Bears first drive yielded 32 yards on 8 carries.

3. Play for pride
The Texans are 3-2 all-time against the Jaguars and have a chance to finish the season 8-8 with victories in the next two weeks. The atmosphere in Jacksonville should be intense due to the fact the Jags are in the playoff hunt. The Texans will need to take the crowd out of the game early and play as if they were fighting for a spot in the playoffs. The experience this weekend should go a long way for many of the Texans players who have not been in meaningful games.

Views on the Game Texans   Bob says: Texans play spoiler on their way to an 8-8 finish. Texans 23, Jaguars 19   Dave says: Prediction forthcoming. Jaguars   Jimmy says: We need more Dunta, but he don’t play offense. Jaguars 24, Texans 13 Jaguars   Keith says: The Grinch steals back Christmas. Jaguars 17, Texans 16 Texans   Ric says: Jags down after emotional win in Green Bay. Texans 21, Jaguars 17 Jaguars   Warren says: If the "dirty" Texan O-line can hold the Jags sackless again, the Texans can pull the upset. Jaguars 23, Texans 20 2004 Regular Season Records
Bob 10-4; Dave 9-5; Jimmy 9-5; Keith 7-7;
Ric 10-4; Warren 8-6
Week 15 Preview Jacksonville Jaguars
2004 Record: (8-6)
12.26.04 | 12pm
Jacksonville, FL Texan Leaders David Carr
257/422, 3,286 yds, 14/12 Domanick Davis
254/927, 3.6 YPC, 11 TD Andre Johnson
73/1,083, 14.8 YPC, 5 TD Jaguar Leaders Byron Leftwich
246/399, 2,757 yds, 15/8 Fred Taylor
260/1,244, 4.7 YPC, 2 TD

Jimmy Smith
69/1,133, 16.4 YPC, 6 TD

2004 Schedule Date Opponent Result 08.14 Dallas 18-0 08.21 at Pittsburgh 3-38 08.27 at Denver 17-31 09.02 Tampa Bay 9-17 Regular Season 09.12 San Diego 20-27 09.19 at Detroit 16-28 09.26 at Kansas City 24-21 10.03 Oakland 30-17 10.10 Minnesota 28-34 10.17 at Tennessee 20-10 10.24 Bye   10.31 Jacksonville 20-6 11.07 at Denver 13-31 11.14 at Indianapolis 14-49 11.21 Green Bay 13-16 11.28 Tennessee 31-21 12.05 at New York Jets 7-29 12.12 Indianapolis 14-23 12.19 at Chicago 24-5 12.26 at Jacksonville 21-0 01.02 Cleveland 14-22   Overall Record 7-9