Audibles: AFC South Week 3 preview

September, 19, 2008
9/19/08
4:33
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Houston Texans (0-1) at Tennessee Titans (2-0), 1 p.m. ET

The Texans' inability to forge an identity since their inception is evident in their work against Tennessee. Houston is just 2-10 all-time against the Titans and has lost seven straight against them.

Matt Schaub was knocked out of both games last year and Sage Rosenfels did good work to rally the Texans, but they wound up swallowing three- and eight-point losses.

Schaub may be less likely to stand in and absorb a hit just after release than he's been in the past. Steve Slaton is expected to get the first turns at running back and if he can slip a couple of tackles at crucial moments he could really help the cause. But the Titans defensive line is tailor-made to counteract the Texans' zone-blocking run scheme. If Albert Haynesworth, Kyle Vanden Bosch et al are able to get off quickly at the snap and push the offensive line back, they believe they'll throw Houston off its plan.

Kerry Collins fought fierce winds last week in Cincinnati. Barring such circumstances, we should get a better read on how the Titans' pass-targets respond to him as the starter. He needs only 90 yards passing to reach 35,000 for his career. When he gets there, he'll be the 15th quarterback all-time to hit the number and join Brett Favre and Peyton Manning as the only active players who've hit the mark.

The Titans shouldn't need Collins to do much: Including the playoffs, the Titans have limited opponents to 17 or fewer points in six consecutive games.

Tennessee has the league's worst special-teams coverage units. If Houston's to spring an upset, a big return from Andre Davis or Jacoby Jones could be part of the formula.

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-1), 4:15 p.m. ET

Beat-up offensive lines are the big issue in this game. Both teams will have three fill-ins at work. The team that can find run room and better protect its passer should have the edge. Jeff Saturday's return at center should help bolster the Colts.

Jacksonville retooled its secondary in the offseason, largely to be able to match up better with the Colts. Brian Williams, who's got a lot of experience as a cornerback, is the strong safety with Rashean Mathis and Drayton Florence at the corner spots. The way the Colts deploy Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez and Dallas Clark is no secret -- though last week they put Wayne in the slot some with Gonzalez outside. How does that secondary react to those targets and can the Jaguars find ways to get Peyton Manning off rhythm?

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams likes to blitz, but that's rarely proven an effective way to fluster Manning, who simply connects with hot reads. This is just the type of scenario for which the Jaguars drafted Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves. Can the rookies get into the backfield?

The return games feature two intriguing rookies -- Justin Forsett for the Colts and Brian Witherspoon for Jacksonville. The Jags have covered better so far.

The Colts have won five of the last six matchups, and the Jaguars have not won at Indianapolis since Oct. 24, 2004.

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