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Friday, November 18, 2011
Final Word: AFC South

By Paul Kuharsky

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Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 11:

Good matchup: Cleveland has an anemic offense and an unbalanced defense. On paper, the Jaguars’ burgeoning defense should be able to have a good day against quarterback Colt McCoy. The Jaguars’ offense should be able to really ride Maurice Jones-Drew against the 30th-ranked run defense, which allows 142.8 yards on ground per game. The Browns are No. 1 in pass defense, in part because of a Joe Haden-led secondary, in part because when opponents run that well against them, they don’t need to throw it as much. Doesn’t seem like a potential breakout day for Jags QB Blaine Gabbert.

Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson was effective last week with the Titans protecting a big lead. Can he keep it up against the Falcons?
Running without a lead: Chris Johnson had a breakout game last week in Carolina. But the Titans were very quickly in position where they could force-feed him. A quick 14-0 put the team into position where it was easy to hand the ball off and work the same run plays over and over. And that was healthy for the Titans. But in a game like Sunday’s at Atlanta, the question is whether the Titans can run Johnson effectively from the start in a game where the Titans probably don’t jump out to a big, early lead.

Few fireworks: The Jaguars and the Browns have each scored more than 17 points only once this season. Jacksonville averages 12.8 points (31st in the NFL) and Cleveland averages 14.6 (28th). Want more? These are the two worst teams in the league in yards per play, with the Jaguars averaging 4.0 and the Browns 4.4. But beware. Often when we pile up a list of stats indicating there won’t be much offense or many points, we get a 40-38 game. Also note the Jaguars have won only once on the road this season.

Safe and sound: The Titans have gotten just what they envisioned from QB Matt Hasselbeck when they signed him. They thought with good protection he’d return to his best form, and he has. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Hasselbeck has been sacked, hit while throwing or under duress on the lowest percentage of drop-backs this season -- 15.9. When he’s not under duress, he’s completed 65.2 percent of his passes. (Sometimes he rushes things; something to keep an eye out for.) Atlanta has 15 sacks, with right end John Abraham and tackle Corey Peters having three apiece.

Bye week thoughts: I’m not sure there is much the Colts can be thinking or doing during their weekend off that will do much to change the course of their miserable season and a potential 0-16 record. Houston, meanwhile, should allow itself some degree of satisfaction over its 7-3 record and No. 1 defensive ranking. When the Texans return to action, they’ll need to make things as easy as possible for Matt Leinart as he steps in at quarterback to replace the injured Matt Schaub. The Jaguars' defense will be a stiff challenge for Leinart, but Houston’s rushing attack and D should give it a good chance at win No. 8 on Nov. 27 in Jacksonville.