Houston started the season off with a bang, leaving Reliant with a 30-10 victory over the Dolphins. This week, the club travels to Jacksonville. Divisional games, especially those on the road, are nothing to take lightly. Jacksonville looks like a very weak team this year though, so look for Houston to try to correct a few problems from last week’s game:
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Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Houston’s Run Defense
If Jacksonville is going to pull the upset, they’re going to need to win this matchup. And they’re fully-capable. Last season’s clear leading runner with 1606 yards on the ground managed 77 rushing yards last week against a very good Minnesota run defense. Houston looked softer than usual last week up the middle. If they stack the box against MJD, they should be able to keep some points off the board.
Houston’s Running Game vs. Jacksonville’s Run Defense
Houston’s run game was also a bit maligned last week, averaging 2.4 yards per rush. Miami also has a very good run defense, but that doesn’t let Arian Foster and Ben Tate off the hook. By the numbers, Jacksonville had one of the better defenses in the league in 2011. Look for Houston to use playaction early to set up the run and establish some lanes for Houston’s dynamic backs.
Jacksonville’s Offensive Tackles vs. Houston’s Pass Rush
J.J. Watt had a standout game last week. We may see more of the same on Sunday, with Jacksonville’s starting left tackle Eben Britton listed as questionable. The other bookend, Cameron Bradfield, is out. Either way, Jacksonville’s line is not their strong point, so Phillips should bring the heat early and get the linebackers close to the line of scrimmage.
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Prediction: HOU 16, JAC 10