Free NFL Pick: Jacksonville at Houston 01-02-2011

January 2, 2011

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Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans

Sunday January 2nd, 2011 4:15 PM EST

Line: Jacksonville -3

Overview:

The Jacksonville Jaguars are technically still alive. With a win and a Colts’ loss the Jaguars will be going to the playoffs. Last week, with no Maurice Jones Drew, they lost in overtime to the Washington Redskins. This is another must win game. Regardless of the outcome, not many people expected the Jaguars to do as well as they did when the season first began. If they finish above .500, that should be considered a huge victory from an organizational standpoint.

The Texans allowed the Broncos to come back from a huge deficit and come away with a victory. They have dropped four straight and a coaching change will likely be made at the end of the season. The Titans have been expected to put it all together for a number of years, but they can never seem to get it done under current leadership.

Keys to the Game:

  • The Jaguars could not replicate Maurice Jones-Drew’s production when he was out last week. Even against a terrible Redskins run defense, Jennings was held to only 2.1 YPC. While noone expects him to be Jones-Drew, Jennings needs to produce more than he is in the absence of Jones Drew. It is extremely important for the Jaguars to get the ground game moving in a positive manner, first and foremost.
  • Andre Johnson is out, so an increased role in the running game should help the Texans secure their first rushing title holder in franchise history. Arian Foster is going to see an influx in carries, as the passing game is going to struggle without Andre the Giant hauling in passes on the outside. The Jaguars are much better at stopping the run than the pass, but they are still not good at either. Foster struggled in their last meeting, but will look to make up for it with a strong showing this week.

Key Matchup:

David Garrard Vs. Houston’s pass defense

  • The Texans have the worst pass defense in the NFL. David Garrard has had success this year when he can exploit teams who leave eight or nine in the box. It is unclear if they are going to load up against the run on Sunday, but they can’t completely ignore the passing game, as they have all year long. The Texans have the league’s worst pass defense. With no MoJo in the backfield, David Garrard becomes less of a threat. That being said, the Texans are awful against the pass.

Wrap Up:

I don’t like either one of these teams at this point. The Jaguars have more to play for, but they are without their leading man. Even so, I’m taking Jacksonville, especially with Andre Johnson being sidelined with an injury.

Free NFL Pick: Jacksonville -3


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