After an emotional win over the Tennessee Titans in Week Two, many Texans fans are worried about the dreaded "let down" game. Enter the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that is desperate for a win and loaded with talent. The Jaguars have played two divisional champs from 2008, and these teams always play each other close. Here are the five matchups that are most important in my opinion in order to prevent a deflating loss.
1. Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Brian Cushing/DeMeco Ryans/Zac Diles - MJD is one of the best running backs in the league, and the best Jags player. He runs with power but can also burn defenders in open space. MJD averaged almost 5 yards per carry last week against the Cardinals, but only received 13 carries because of the necessity to catch up through the air. The Jaguars are a team that wants to set the tempo of the game through the run, and the Texans have been wholly inconsistent defending it. Hopefully the Texans linebacking corps can keep the momentum from the fourth quarter last week.
2. Mario Williams vs. Eugene Monroe - After mounting an early lead, the Cardinals were able to blitz freely last week which resulted in 4 sacks. Despite playing Dwight Freeney on opening day, Monroe will face his toughest challenge so far against Williams. The Texans secondary needs all the help it can get, and with only one sack in the season, Mario is primed for a big day. Last time Mario played the Jags he tallied three sacks. I know it's a different O-Line this year, but a similar result is more than possible.
3. Mike Sims-Walker vs. Fred Bennett - After being shut out against the Colts, Sims-Walker managed 6 receptions for 106 yards and a TD against a very good Cardinals secondary. Bennett still hasn't shown the ability he flashed in his rookie year, but the Texans will need him to step up since Dunta Robinson will likely see more of Torry Holt. Both need to play better than they have so far.
4. Andre Johnson vs. Rashean Mathis - It's cliche to cite "our best WR vs. their best CB", but we saw what a difference it makes in the offense when Johnson is able to regularly get free like he did last week. It is still undetermined if Kevin Walter will be able to make his first start of the season this week or how effective he will be still nursing his hamstring, so Matt Schaub will likely again ask Johnson to shoulder a large load. Kurt Warner had an amazing day last Sunday, but Larry Fitzgerald only managed 4 catches for 34 yards, largely due to Mathis.
5. Gary Kubiak vs. Texans' Complacency - After a huge win against the Titans last year, the Texans laid an egg against the Raiders the following week, thus ruining the chance at a first ever winning season in franchise history. After last week's win, Kubiak made a point of focusing on the things the Texans have to fix rather than reveling in the victory. Hopefully he kept that message going all week in practice and it will show on the field.