- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Even the best teams tend to have cracks.
Arrive at the wrong matchup against an opponent equipped to exploit it, and a top team can lose even if it plays well.
The 4-0 Houston Texans are not invincible as they prepare for "Monday Night Football" at MetLife Stadium against the Jets.
The teams they’ve beaten are a combined 5-11. If the Texans dispatch the Jets, that combined record will be 7-14.
How should the Jets take aim at the Texans?
There are not a lot of obvious avenues, but here’s what I would try.
Attack the middle of the defense: No, the Jets don’t have a guy with the potential of Titans running back Chris Johnson. But Johnson got almost all of his 141 rushing yards last week between the tackles. The Texans showed a soft spot there.
Use formations and blocking schemes that give you a chance to isolate and go after those two guys.
“I think the NT position is weak and they might be susceptible to an interior power running game,” ESPN.com's Matt Williamson said. “I also think you want to do everything possible with personnel, formations and motion to get their OLBs in coverage-against whoever.”
I’d rather see the Texans in their base defense with James than in nickel with Brice McCain in the mix.
Test Kareem Jackson: The Texans' No. 2 cornerback has gotten a lot better. But he’s been a better zone defender than man defender in his time with the Texans.
He jumped a route and returned an interception of Matt Hasselbeck 63 yards for a touchdown last week. Make Jackson show he’s up for the task again.
The Jets may not have high-quality wide receivers without the injured Santonio Holmes, but they should scheme to get Jackson in man situations and test him.
“I know that Kareem Jackson has improved quite a bit this season, but he is the guy to target rather than Johnathan Joseph for sure,” Williamson said.
Don’t let Houston get an early lead: Houston has outscored opponents 31-8 in the first quarter, and once the Texans have the lead, they can really do some damage. They then can dedicate time to the run and work the play-action and the bootleg scheme that spins off of it.
“They rarely play from behind -- and I don’t think they are real adept at doing so,” Williamson said. “Getting up early is key.”
Fare well in these three departments and the Jets will have a chance. But they may not have the personnel or capacity to do it all.
“[The Texans] are a really tough team to play against,” Williamson said. “You know they want to run, so I think you dedicate your D to stopping that -- even at the expense of Andre Johnson maybe blowing up. I think you want Matt Schaub throwing the ball a ton…
“But overall, best of luck with all that.”