What matters: The Texans have the best record in the AFC and look to be well on their way to a No. 1 seed in the playoffs. This is Houston's final home game before hitting the road for three straight, starting with a trip to Detroit next week on Thanksgiving. It might be easy for the Texans to overlook the Jaguars considering what is on the horizon. Jacksonville is tied for the worst record in the league at 1-8 and lost to Houston at home 27-7 in Week 2.
Who matters: RB Arian Foster has been fantastic again this season. Last week against Chicago, he carried the offense with 29 rushes for 102 yards and a receiving touchdown. In Week 2 against the Jaguars, Foster ran for 110 yards and a score while catching six passes for 37 yards. He leads the NFL with 24.6 rushing attempts per game, three more than the next man on the list, Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (21.2), and five more than Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (19.5).
Key matchups: The Texans defense caused a lot of problems for second-year Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert in the first meeting. Gabbert was just 7 of 19 for 53 yards and a touchdown, and Jacksonville managed just 117 yards of total offense, a Houston franchise record for fewest yards allowed. Texans DE J.J. Watt gave Jacksonville's offensive line fits with five tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery.
Injuries of note: RB Ben Tate (hamstring), TE Owen Daniels (back), and NT Shaun Cody (ribs/back) missed last week's game at Chicago. All have practiced this week at some point, but Tate missed Thursday's practice after his hamstring injury flared up. DE Antonio Smith missed practice Thursday with an illness.
Inside stuff: Houston's defense has forced 33 three-and-outs this season and is allowing opponents to convert just 25.2 percent of their third downs. Both of those stats help explain why the Texans lead the league in time of possession at 34:46.
Connections: Texans WR coach Larry Kirksey was on the coaching staff at Jacksonville in 2003. Texans offensive assistant Jim Ryan played at William & Mary in 1974 with Jaguars LB coach Mark Duffner. Texans QB coach Karl Dorrell was the head coach at UCLA when Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew, TE Marcedes Lewis, and LB Kyle Bosworth were there.
Stat you should know: The Jaguars rank dead last in total offense, averaging 263.6 yards per game. That is more than 30 yards fewer than anyone else in the league. Jacksonville has just two rushing touchdowns, which is tied for the fewest in the NFL. Houston is the only team that has not allowed a rushing touchdown this season.
Bulletin board quote: Foster on if this is a trap game for the Texans: “I don't even know who invented that term. They obviously have never played in the NFL before. Jacksonville is a talented team and we're focused. We have a goal in mind. The first part of that goal is this Sunday against Jacksonville.”
Looking ahead: The Texans hit the road for their next three games. Next week, Houston has to travel on a short week to face Detroit on Thanksgiving. The Texans then play at Tennessee on Dec. 2 and at New England on Monday, Dec. 10.
Follow Texans blogger Sean Bielawski on Twitter @CBSTexans.
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.