Posted November 14, 2012 on
AP on Fox
Tied for the NFL's best record, the Houston Texans continue to inch closer to a second straight AFC South crown.
A matchup against the division's worst team seems unlikely to slow them down.
The Texans aim for a fifth consecutive victory over the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars, who try to avoid matching their longest losing streak in franchise history Sunday.
Houston (8-1) made quite a statement last Sunday night, pulling out a gritty 13-6 win at Chicago to remain two games ahead of second-place Indianapolis in the division. While the Texans were limited to a season-low 215 yards, their stifling defensive unit came up huge again with a season best-tying four turnovers.
"The more ways you find to win in this league, you get more confidence," coach Gary Kubiak said. "Things like that give you a chance to be a great team. There will be nothing false about what we are when we get there at the end because we've been in some tough situations. And the more we handle them, the better we get."
Giving up averages of 281.6 yards and 15.9 points to rank second and third in the league, the Texans made things especially difficult on the Jaguars (1-8) during a 27-7 road win Sept. 16, holding them to a franchise-low 117 yards.
While Houston has outscored Jacksonville by an average of 13.5 points during its run in this series, Kubiak isn't overlooking Sunday's matchup.
"We've got to get ready for a division opponent real quick," he said after last weekend's win. "It's just part of the maturing process if you want to be good enough to someday put yourself in the position to win a championship. I think we're growing up from that standpoint."
Tied with Kansas City for the league's worst record, the Jaguars are averaging 12.5 points during a six-game losing streak. Jacksonville, which suffered seven consecutive defeats during its inaugural 1995 season, saw its woes continue last Thursday with a 27-10 loss to the Colts.
"I don't think any of us thought that we would be in this position," coach Mike Mularkey said. "I know our team didn't feel like we'd be in this position. ... We're not looking back. We're moving forward. We're going to try to continue to gain progress in what we're doing. It's disappointing because none of us felt like we would be here by any means."
Maurice Jones-Drew's continued absence surely hasn't helped the Jaguars, who won't have their All-Pro running back for the fourth consecutive game. Starting in place of Jones-Drew, Rashad Jennings has compiled 131 yards on 40 carries over the last three weeks.
Blaine Gabbert completed 18 of 31 passes for 209 yards with an interception last Thursday before aggravating an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. While Chad Henne was much more efficient in his place, Gabbert, whose 76.9 passer rating ranks sixth-lowest in the NFL, will continue to start.
"I don't think it's one guy," Mularkey said. "You always go to that guy. Not in here. Everybody is held accountable for why the offense is not functioning at a high level consistently, and I think that goes for everybody. That's including the coaches."
In addition to getting a better performance from Gabbert, the Jaguars will likely need to step up their efforts against the run Sunday. Jacksonville is allowing an average of 137.4 rushing yards and has surrendered 14 TDs on the ground, the second-most in the league.
The Jaguars' struggles could lead to another big day for Arian Foster, who ran for 102 yards and scored his NFL-best 12th TD from scrimmage against the Bears.
"I would say that was about the toughest 102 yards a man could get," Kubiak said. "Everybody and their brother knew who was getting the ball and he still found a way to keep us on track."
Foster, who's rushed for 523 yards and six scores in five starts against the Jaguars, may not need to shoulder all of the load Sunday with Ben Tate possibly returning following a two-game absence due to a hamstring injury.
Nose tackle Shaun Cody and tight end Owen Daniels, who leads the Texans with five touchdown receptions, could also play after sitting out last weekend.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
The Houston Texans are one of the few teams that can go into their second string players, and not fall off in overall team production. Majority of analyst realized that the Texans had a solid roster heading into the 2012, and after a seeing how the team responded in 2011 with their rash of injuries, the team was set for bigger growth this season. The injuries of the 2011 season was...
Texans defensive back Danieal Manning is shocked at Chicago fans for booing him for doing his job and intercepting a Jay Cutler pass. Sometimes you just can't win, it's not personal, it's Chicago.
Danieal Manning was selected by the Chicago Bears with the 42nd pick in the 2006 NFL Draft from Abilene Christian University. In 2008, Manning led the league in kickoff return...
Loiseau is an interesting prospect from small-school Merrimack in the little-known Division II Northeast Ten conference. He was ignored by bigger schools in high school, but displayed NFL ability throughout his time at Merrimack. He is a productive tackler and a natural at the position who can read lines and make quick plays on the ball.
Loiseau is a very good tackler who plays instinctively...
Brett Hartmann, a former punter with the Houston Texans, is suing the owners of Houston's Reliant Stadium for negligence regarding an injury he suffered to his non-kicking leg late last season, his lawyer announced Thursday. Hartmann alleges he suffered a career-threatening knee injury last December when his foot was caught in a seam between grass pods, attorney Greg Egdorf...
Former Houston Texans punter Brett Hartmann has sued the county agency that operates Reliant Stadium, blaming ''unsafe turf'' for a possibly career-ending knee injury.
The 6-foot-2 Hartmann signed with the Texans as an undrafted free agent in July 2011. He played in the first 12 games last season before tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament and fracturing a...
Last week: 2 (+1)
I guess the Texans move into the #1 spot at Chicago’s expense with their win over them, but you have to wonder what the outcome would have been had Cutler not gotten hurt (he threw an interception on a promising drive immediately after suffering that concussion). It’s a shame that Cutler had to get hurt in what seemed like it would be the most revealing...
HOUSTON (AP) -- Former Houston Texans punter Brett Hartmann has sued the county agency that operates Reliant Stadium, blaming "unsafe turf" for a possibly career-ending knee injury.
The 6-foot-2 Hartmann signed with the Texans as an undrafted free agent in July 2011. He played in the first 12 games last season before tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament and fracturing...
In what could be considered the worst playing conditions, the Houston Texans invaded Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears. The weather was horrible for playing an outdoor game, cold temperatures, swirling wind and rain. With the weather going to be a factor, NFL analyst said that this would work in the Bears’ favor. Well not so fast my friend, the Texans came out and put...
Houston Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins will be fined a $30,000 fine for his hit on Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on Sunday night, ESPN reported. Cutler suffered a concussion after the helmet-to-helmet hit and didn't return after halftime. Dobbins was penalized for unnecessary roughness. On the play, Cutler was scrambling and was called for an illegal forward pass when...
The Texans moved to 8-1, tying the Atlanta Falcons for the best record in the NFL, with their sloppy 13-6 win over the previously 7-1 Chicago Bears. While it was not a pretty game by any means, the Texans went into Chicago and beat the Bears outdoors in bad conditions. The statistics for this game may not look very impressive, but this game was more about toughness and making big...
Athlon Sports' weekly rankings of NFL teams — from the best, the one-loss Houston Texans, to the worst, the clawless one-win Jacksonville Jaguars...