Texans-Jaguars: Five matchups to watch

Texans-Jaguars: Five matchups to watch
November 23, 2013, 7:00 pm
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3 and Out: Kubiak, Jackson's rib, Mays

(USA Today Images)

The Texans (2-8) are hosting the Jaguars (1-9) for a battle of the bottom of the AFC South.

Here are five matchups to watch:

Johnathan Joseph vs. Cecil Shorts
Shorts is really the only threat the Jaguars have through the air. He has 50 catches for 629 yards and a touchdown.

With Kareem Jackson out, Joseph will likely cover Shorts all afternoon. This is where the Texans really lucked out by the Jags not having Justin Blackmon. If Blackmon wasn't suspended, Shorts would be against Brice McCain all day. Instead, McCain will face rookie Mike Brown.

Joseph will have to be careful about letting Shorts get past him. Shorts has nine catches of 20-plus yards this season.

Duane Brown vs. Jason Babin
The Jaguars don't have much of a pass rush. They have 15 sacks on the season, the second-lowest total in the NFL.

But when they do get a pass rush, it's from former Texan Jason Babin. Babin has a team-high three sacks this season.

Babin had 18 sacks with the Eagles in 2011 and 12.5 with the Titans in 2010. He's kind of a one-trick pony but it's a darn good trick.

In the Jaguars' 4-3 defense, he'll be lining up against All Pro Duane Brown, who hasn't played like an All Pro this season. This will be a nice test for him.

Ben Tate vs. Paul Pusluszny
Tate has played through his rib injury the past few weeks and has played fairly well.

Pusluszny has quietly become one of the better middle linebackers in the NFL. He is seventh in the league with 88 tackles. He also has two interceptions; one returned for a touchdown.

By the way, the Texans haven’t had a rushing touchdown in over a month. Their last one was a Tate touchdown on Oct. 13 against the Rams.

Dwayne Gratz or Alan Ball vs. Andre Johnson
Gratz is a rookie and Ball is a veteran who played minimally for the Texans in 2012.

One of those two will need to attempt to cover Johnson, who is having one of the best seasons of his career. Johnson is on pace for 115 catches for 1,546 yards. If he does it, it'll be his fourth season of 100 catches and 1,500 yards. That would the most such seasons all-time, passing Marvin Harrison.

Also, if Johnson catches 10 passes on Sunday, he’ll reach 900 in 149 games, tying Harrison for the fastest to reach that mark.

Joe Mays vs. Maurice Jones-Drew
Mays missed last week with a knee and oblique injury but he’ll play this Sunday against Jacksonville and Jones-Drew.

Jones-Drew has struggled but it's not all his fault. Teams continue to stack the box and the Texans shouldn't be any different this week. Jones-Drew has averaged a miniscule 2.9 yards per carry this season.

He's the eighth player since the merger to have a yards per carry average under 3 (with at least 150 carries) through 10 games.

Mays will have a lot of opportunities for tackles on Sunday.