- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter
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1. The Jaguars’ ability to score points: OK, it’s not fair to say it's falling. It’s been poor all season and showed no sign of improving. The Jaguars came back from a 10-0 deficit against San Diego on Monday night to take a 14-10 lead. But once San Diego got more than 20 points, the game was over –- the Jaguars haven’t scored 21 points all season. And the Chargers were over 30 before the fourth quarter started on their way to a 38-14 victory. With Blaine Gabbert quarterbacking and Maurice Jones-Drew as the offensive centerpiece, this isn’t a team that can make much of a charge from behind.
2. The luck of Andre Johnson, Houston Texans receiver: For the second time this season, Johnson went down while running without taking any contact, victim of a hamstring injury. Last time cost him six games. This time it’s the other leg and doesn’t appear nearly as serious. Although the Texans are calling him day-to-day, they could again be without their top weapon in the passing game. Absent Johnson, teams can load up to stop Arian Foster and Ben Tate, taking their chances against rookie quarterback T.J. Yates as he looks to less-threatening downfield weapons.
3. Offensive line play in Indianapolis: The offensive line has actually played better much of this season than we could have reasonably expected, especially once the injuries started to pile up. Now it’s struggling with penalties and giving up sacks. In New England, the line accounted for four of the Colts’ five penalties with false starts and holding. With the minimal margin for error, they simply can’t afford that. A hold that might save a hit it one thing, but a false start is the sort of undisciplined stuff that gets bad teams killed.
1. Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans coach: He gave credit to offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp for a sleepless week working to get Yates ready and teach two new backups the system. But Kubiak calls the Texans' plays, and Yates made a solid showing in his first NFL start. Jim Harbaugh might run away with coach-of-the-year honors for his work turning San Francisco around, but that seems only slightly more improbable to me than what Houston’s doing considering its injuries. While defensive coordinator Wade Phillips gets a lot of credit for the transformation, here’s a small bid for giving Kubiak his fair share.
2. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans running back: He’s here a second week in a row after a second big game in a row, and this one came after he lost weight because he was so sick in the days leading up to the team’s trip to Buffalo. The Titans have waited and waited, and Johnson finally looks like he’s back to the form that earned him a giant contract after his holdout this summer. To make a push for a wild-card spot out of a division the Texans are very likely to win, the Titans will need more big contributions and explosive plays from Johnson. Everyone was getting blame when it was bad, as coach Mike Munchak pointed out, everyone should get some of the credit now.
3. Taylor Price, Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver: A third-round choice by the Patriots in 2010 out of Ohio University, he didn’t make a mark with receiver-needy New England. But the Jaguars are even more receiver-needy. They got him Monday with a waiver claim, and even if Price does nothing in the remainder of the season, he’s a good piece to add to the mix for the upcoming offseason. The 90th overall pick by a team that drafts well is definitely worth a look, and even if the team really addresses the position in free agency and the draft, Price could have an opportunity to stick in Jacksonville.
FALLING1. The Jaguars’ ability to score points: OK, it’s not fair to say it's falling. It’s been poor all season and showed no sign of improving.