The Jaguars were accused of having taken the Houston Texans too lightly in the past. That doesn't appear as though it'll be a problem on Sunday.
"Probably the biggest game of the year. Don't press. Do what we do. Good things will happen," running back Fred Taylor said of Sunday's one p.m. kickoff at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.
It's a game each team needs to win to maintain reasonable hope of challenging the Indianapolis Colts for the AFC South title. The Jaguars, 3-1, will host the Colts in week seven. The Texans, 3-2, will host the division's other team, Tennessee (3-1), next week.
The AFC South picture is obviously going to clear over the next two weeks of the season. Will the Colts have a challenger this season? That's what we're going to find out, beginning on Sunday.
"We have a loose coach. He's going to make sure we're loose. I know this team is going to be focused and loose. There aren't going to be any tight (deleted) in here," quarterback Dave Garrard said.
The Texans are trying to overcome the loss of star wide receiver Andre Johnson, who is attempting to recover from a knee injury. He missed the first two practices of this week and appears headed for a fourth consecutive week of inactivity. The Texans are 1-2 without Johnson.
With Johnson out, the burden of moving the ball has fallen even harder on quarterback Matt Schaub, who is off to a strong start. Schaub has completed 70.7 percent of his passes and has a 95.5 passer rating. What Schaub has had trouble doing, however, is finishing drives, and that's largely the result of Johnson's absence. He's been the Texans' touchdown maker.
"We knew we were getting a player with a lot of ability," coach Gary Kubiak said of Schaub, for whom the Texans traded two second-round picks last winter. "His play has been consistent. He should only get better. I think he'll be a good player for a long, long time."
The good news for Schaub and the offense is that they expect running back Ahman Green to return to action. In Green's absence, the running game has sunk to 25th place in the NFL.
Houston is also hoping punt-returner Jacoby Jones can make it back from a shoulder injury. Jones was limited in practice this week. He has a 74-yard return this season and a 16.5 yards-per-return average.
Defensively, the Texans are vastly improved over last season. Several first-round picks on the defensive side of the ball have made the difference. This year's first-round pick, defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, has four sacks. Last year's first pick of the draft, Mario Williams, has three sacks. Cornerback Dunta Williams, the team's first-round pick in 2004, has two interceptions.
"It's a big challenge for us," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said. "It's a home game, it's a divisional game. You need to win home games in your division."
The game is being blacked out to local television for the second consecutive Jaguars home game. It's expected, however, that most of the tickets that remained at blackout time on Thursday will be purchased and Sunday's crowd will give the Jaguars a distinct homefield advantage.