Houston (2-10) at Jacksonville (3-9)
Jaguars offense vs. Texans defense
Common sense (and the game film from Jacksonville’s 13-6 victory over Houston in Week 12) suggests that the Jaguars can’t block J.J. Watt. It’s inevitable that Watt will disrupt, if not outright ruin, at least eight plays. The key for Jacksonville is to make sure those plays don’t become turnovers. That objective suggests a conservative game plan like the one the Jags got by with last time, when a big run by Maurice Jones-Drew and the first big play of the season from rookie wideout Ace Sanders (a catch-and-run off a quick cross-pick against man coverage) set up 10 of Jacksonville’s 13 points. Big plays will have to come out of short-area concepts again, as it’s clear that none of Jacksonville’s receivers can consistently shake Houston’s man coverage downfield. One final note: look for Jacksonville to emphasize quick throws to the outside and chop blocks when throwing inside. Both tactics negate Houston’s knack for deflecting balls at the line of scrimmage.
Texans offense vs. Jaguars defense
Two weeks ago, linebacker Paul Posluszny put on his run-sniffing hat and, with some help from sidekick Geno Hayes, kept Houston’s zone ground game in check. (The Texans mustered a season-low 218 yards of total offense.) Behind Posluszny, cornerbacks Dwayne Gratz and Alan Ball stifled wideouts Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins with press coverage, not just in man-to-man but also in Cover 2 zone with firm jams off the line scrimmage. Johnson helped Jacksonville’s cause by dropping two intermediate slant passes, while Hopkins dropped a critical sideline bomb. With Case Keenum lately looking unsure about how much he’s supposed to run versus how long he should stay in the pocket, the Texans can’t afford to have their top receivers blowing opportunities.
Thursday Night Football vs. The Rest of Television
This game may not seem appealing, but maybe it will after you consider what else is on during the same timeslot. Then again, maybe it won’t.
* Keeping Up With the Kardashians, reruns, 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET, E!
The nice thing about this show is there’s no difference between the reruns and new episodes.
* NBA: Knicks vs. Nets, 8:00 p.m. ET, TNT
Basically Texans vs. Jaguars, but with a basketball.
* Let It Snow, 8:00 p.m. ET, Hallmark Channel
The DirecTV synopsis of this made-for-TV Christmas special: “An executive examines her company’s new property and prepares a presentation to transform the rustic lodge into a new hot spot. She tries to ignore the lodge’s festive celebrations during her stay, but an unexpected romance changes her heart.”
If the Texans extend their losing streak to 11 games, Gary Kubiak should make everyone watch it on the plane trip home.