JAX-HOU Preview

Houston, TX - A week after getting shut down in an ugly, season-opening loss at home, the Houston Texans' offense was much more effective in leading the team to a shootout win on the road.

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Houston might expect another prolific performance with the winless Jacksonville Jaguars coming to town.

The Texans look to build on an encouraging performance and improve to 2-0 within the AFC South on Sunday when they host the Jaguars, hoping to avoid their first 0-3 start since 2003.

Oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGLOBAL.com have made the Texans –3.5 point spread favorites (View NFL odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 79% of bets for this game have been placed on the Texans –3.5 (View NFL bet percentages).

Houston (1-1) was limited to 183 yards in a 24-7 loss to the New York Jets in Week 1, its lowest total since the last game of the 2006 season. It was a frustrating performance for a unit that expected big things after finishing third in the league in total offense with 382.1 yards per game last season.

The Texans looked much more like that 2008 team last Sunday, totaling 420 yards in their 34-31 win at defending AFC South champion Tennessee. Matt Schaub threw a career-high four touchdown passes and Andre Johnson rebounded from a forgettable opener to finish with 10 catches for 149 yards and two TDs.

Those big outings - and Kris Brown's go-ahead 23-yard field goal with 2:55 remaining - helped the Texans rally from a 21-7 deficit and quiet critics who questioned their toughness after the opener.

"This shows what kind of team we are and what we're becoming and what our mentality is," said Schaub, who added that he's close to being completely recovered from a sprained ankle that bothered him in the opener. "We had to go out and play four quarters against a very good football team."

While Houston's passing game woke up last week, the ground attack languished again. It's totaled 101 yards through two games in large part because Steve Slaton has struggled.

Slaton, who rushed for a franchise-record 1,282 yards as a rookie last season, has 51 yards on 26 carries. His three fumbles match his total from 2008, when he ran the ball 268 times.

The Texans are also last in the league in total defense, allowing 455.5 yards per game.

Coach Gary Kubiak is well aware of the areas in which his team needs to improve, and he claims he's not reading too much into last week's win.

"We're very realistic," Kubiak said. "You sit here and watch the film today and we understand our problems. And these statistics don't lie. So I think our guys are very humbled by what's going on and know the issues that we have and understand that we can be pretty darn good or pretty darn average."

The Jaguars (0-2) were neither good nor average last week. They allowed Arizona's Kurt Warner to break the NFL record for completion percentage with a 24-for-26 performance for 243 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions en route to a 31-17 defeat.

Jacksonville had no sacks, got little pressure and missed tackles all over the field. The team has seen little progress in the 3-4 schemes installed by new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, brought in to revamp one of the league's most porous units last season.

"Yards after the catch was a big point of emphasis leading into this week and we did not handle that very well," coach Jack Del Rio said. "We did not tackle the short pass game that we knew we would get.

"You absolutely cannot be any good on defense if you don't do that. That's an area we must and will improve in."

The Jaguars could stand to make some progress on offense as well. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew hasn't carried the unit as expected, and David Garrard has been sacked five times and has more fumbles (three) than TD passes (two).

Jacksonville has dropped 10 of 12, including a 30-17 loss at Houston on Dec. 1. Slaton ran for 130 yards and two touchdowns in that game.

The Texans, 13-30 all-time within the AFC South, are trying to match their only previous 2-0 start within the division from 2004. They're 8-6 against the Jaguars, going 5-2 in Houston.

The Texans' offense took a hit Monday with the news that left guard Chester Pitts will miss Sunday's game because of a knee injury. His absence will break his streak of 114 straight starts - every game in franchise history.

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Posted: 9/23/09 3:30PM ET

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