Free NFL Pick: Houston at Jacksonville 11-14-2010

November 12, 2010

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Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars

Sunday November 14th, 2010 1:00 PM EST

Line: Jacksonville -2

Overview:

This season, there are many parallels that can be drawn between the Jaguars and Texans. Both knocked off the AFC South bully Indianapolis Colts. Both teams are 4-4. What makes this matchup so compelling is that both teams are among the most inconsistent in the NFL. The Texans have lost three of their last four, leaving fans scratching their heads after starting the season with a promising 3-1 record. The Jaguars followed up a win against the Colts with another victory against Buffalo, only to be served a 27 point defeat against the Titans in the following week. Neither of these teams are predictable, which makes this analysis difficult, but interesting nonetheless.

Keys to the Game:

  • David Garrard is the key to this game. While Maurice Jones-Drew is unquestionably the greatest talent on the Jaguars roster, the team has the most success when Garrard is at his best. Teams dare Garrard to throw the ball by loading up the box and Garrard has responded. The numbers are inflated due to the victory against Dallas, but no game demonstrated Garrard’s abilities more than the Cowboys game. Garrard threw for four touchdowns and no interceptions. He has thrown multiple touchdowns in every game they have won this year and failed to do so in their losing efforts. If there is any team that he can put up huge numbers against, it is the Houston Texans.
  • The Texans were a fearsome defense last year. While they have been stingy against the run again this season, they have the worst pass defense in the league. Houston relies on their pass rush to play a heavy role in their pass defense. While Dunta Robinson’s departure makes them weaker at corner, it is their virtually nonexistent pass rush that has put them in this position. The DeMeco Ryans injury forces them to shift Brian Cushing into the middle linebacker spot. This takes away from his pass rushing threat off the edge. Mario Williams has 5.5 of the Texans 12 sacks, but has only posted 1/2 sacks in his last four games. The Texans don’t have a strong enough secondary to compensate for their lack of a pass rush. Whether Garrard can capitalize on this is yet to be seen.
  • The Jaguars look like they are going to allow the Texans to do just about whatever they want offensively. The Texans have a balanced offense, featuring Arian Foster, who is leading the NFL in rushing and Andre Johnson, who is one of the best receivers in the game. The Jaguars have overachieved this season. They don’t have the talent on defense to keep the Texans in check. Tyson Alualu appears to have been a solid pickup this season, but the Jaguars are going to need to make defense their focus in upcoming off seasons to surround him with help. Look for Arian Foster to have a monster day on the ground, though it shouldn’t take away from the numbers Matt Schaub has through the air.
  • Marcedes Lewis has more touchdowns this season than Chad Ocho Cinco and Larry Fitzgerald combined. When the Jaguars get in the red zone, 22 eyes are looking right at Maurice Jones Drew. This allows Marcedes Lewis to sneak away from coverage and pop in for the easy score. Lewis is a big, sure handed target. He has proven to be a valuable asset and given the injuries the Texans have incurred, Lewis in a one on one matchup with an outside linebacker should be money for the Jaguars.

Wrap Up:

All season long, I have picked the Jaguars to lose. They have surprised me on more than one occasion. The Jaguars have been favored one time this season and managed to come away with four victories, Like the Browns -but not quite to the extent of Cleveland- they find a way to win some games that they are likely to be blown away in. A lot is hanging on the performance of David Garrard, but given the downward trend of the Houston Texans, I’m going with the Jaguars to win by a Josh Scobee field goal.

Free NFL Pick: Jacksonville -2


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