- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 16:
Can Maurice Jones-Drew play through it? He didn’t practice all week with a knee injury and he’s listed as doubtful for the game Sunday against the Washington Redskins. If he doesn’t play, it might not be the death blow many imagine, however. Rashad Jennings has shown he’s got some excellent run skills. I’ll bet the Jaguars are quite confident in Jennings as a lead back. This game is crucial to keeping Jacksonville’s playoff chances alive.
Will the Colts stack the box? In Week 15, the Colts limited Jones-Drew to 46 rushing yards and beat Jacksonville. The success came largely out of Indianapolis’ willingness to bring extra defenders to the line of scrimmage. ESPN Stats & Info says the Colts stacked the box more frequently than usual. Will they do the same to stop Oakland's Darren McFadden? I’d think they’d be less wary of Jason Campbell than they were of David Garrard. But the Raiders saw what the Colts did a week ago and should have some countermoves ready if they see it themselves.
Will Kerry Collins have to throw on the move? He’s significantly better when he has time to set and step into his throws, but Kansas City's Tamba Hali and Wallace Gilberry have been quite effective as pass-rushers. If they can force Collins to shift, look for plays from Kansas City’s secondary. How much time will Collins even get on the field? The Titans have had defensive issues on third down and in time of possession, and the Chiefs’ top-ranked run game is equipped to take advantage.
Is there still life in the Texans? It didn’t look like it last week in Nashville, but division games can be different. They are more talented than the Broncos. So in many ways their game in Denver could boil down to desire. Are they fired up for another shot at a rookie quarterback (Tim Tebow)? Is their pulse barely detectable with the playoff dream dead and a game on the road in the cold a day after Christmas? It’s the first time Gary Kubiak works the sidelines as a head coach in Denver. He was a Broncos quarterback from 1983 to 1991 and was their offensive coordinator for 11 seasons.
Will the Titans spread out for Chris Johnson? They should. ESPN Stats & Information says over the past two seasons, Johnson averages 7.6 yards when three or more receivers are on the field, versus 4.0 yards with two or more tight ends and 4.5 out of two-back formations. Kansas City counterpart Jamaal Charles actually has better production balance rushing the ball -- he averages 5.8 yards in three wide, 7.0 in two tight and 5.9 in two-back.
1dEric D. Williams
1dEric D. Williams