The Jaguars can get back to .500 with a win over the Houston Texans on Sunday at "The Jack." More importantly, the Jaguars can move their division record above .500 for the first time in three years.
"Home games are very important in this league. Divisional games are very important in this league. Having a divisional game here at home makes it huge and we've got to find a way to get our divisional record to 2-1 and to get our first quarter (of the season) record to 2-2," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said.
The Jaguars resurrected their divisional title hopes last weekend by rallying in the final minute of play to win at Indianapolis. The win left the Jaguars tied with the Colts at 1-2, each two games behind division-leading Tennessee, 3-0. Houston, 0-2, brings up the AFC South rear, but Del Rio was impressed by the Texans team he saw on tape from their recent loss at Tennessee.
"They're really doing a nice job offensively, despite what it might look like to the outside world. They move the ball. They had six offensive possessions in the red zone last week. That means you're moving the ball," Del Rio said. "The running back, the rookie (Steve Slaton) is doing a nice job. He looks like he's going to be a good player. They ran on Tennessee; did something we couldn't do, had some explosive plays."
Wide receiver Andre Johnson has long been the major weapon in the Houston offense. Last year, the Texans acquired quarterback Matt Schaub and it appeared Schaub and Johnson would become one of the hot-new passing combinations in the AFC, but that hasn't developed, yet. Schaub is off to a slow start, with just one touchdown pass and five interceptions.
"Defensively, they're big. Mario Williams leads the way," Del Rio said of a Texans defense that has struggled against the run. The Texans are 27th in the league against the run, but that may also be a product of having played against two teams with strong running games, Pittsburgh and Tennessee.
After a slow start in the first two games, the Jaguars' rush-offense exploded last week for 236 yards and two 100-yard rushers. The Jaguars would no doubt like to lean on the run again this Sunday, as quarterback David Garrard settles in behind a revamped offensive line and as wide receiver Jerry Porter continues his recovery from July hamstring surgery.
Whatever concerns Del Rio has about his team, Texans coach Gary Kubiak has more. This was billed as the year the Texans would become playoff contenders, but that would seem to be on the line this week. At 0-3, the Texans would quickly become also-rans.
"Right now, we're just very concerned about ourselves. We have so many issues we have to clean up to get more competitive and give ourselves a chance to win," Kubiak said.
Kubiak's greatest concern is the Texans' penchant for turnovers.
"We've been sloppy. We did not turn the ball over one time offensively in the preseason, yet, we started this year with six turnovers in two games. Something we tried to correct has reared its ugly head against us, so that's a big, big concern of mine and when you're turning the ball over in this league, you're going to struggle to win," Kubiak said.
This will be somewhat of a crossroads game, especially for the loser, who will have taken a very wrong turn at an early point in the season.