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Friday, December 10, 2010
Final Word: AFC South

By Paul Kuharsky

NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 14:

Keyed by run defense: The personnel in their secondary is the Jaguars’ primary defensive concern. But the Jaguars' past three losses -- to Tennessee, Kansas City and the Giants -- have been to teams that run the ball better than they throw it. Oakland fits that mold for sure. Jacksonville’s run defense has been a key as it has won four out of five. The interior guys, Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu, have a swagger and don’t believe a back can find any yards up the middle. That may mean a quiet day for Michael Bush. But what about Darren McFadden?

Matt Schaub
Matt Schaub is far less effective when facing pressure from the secondary.
Pick up the DB: If the Ravens can collapse the pocket around Matt Schaub the way they did against Pittsburgh a week ago, they’re sure to get him off his spot. But blitzing with front seven guys hasn’t produced giant results, according to ESPN Stats and Info. Schaub’s passer rating drops from 95.7 to. 81.9 when a defense brings at least five pass rushers, but he’s taken 13 sacks each against standard rushes and blitzes. If the Ravens want to really affect his production, they might send a defensive back after him. His passer rating dips to 72.1 against pressure out of the secondary.

A donut in his game: David Garrard is faring well on short stuff and long stuff, but not so much on stuff in the middle. Balls that travel 10 yards or less in the air have produced a 99.4 passer rating, and balls of 21 yards or more a 90.8 rating. But on balls that carry from 11 to 20 yards, his rating is 57.5. Jacksonville will want to pound it with Maurice Jones-Drew and simply supplement him with Garrard throws. Let’s see what’s available to him against the Raiders’ defense, which ranks ninth against the pass.

Okoye playing better: The Texans are in need of an additonal defensive tackle no matter what. But just when I started to think Amobi Okoye’s future was completely up in the air, he’s been playing better. He was disruptive in the Texans’ games against Tennessee and Philadelphia, and it would be nice to see the 2007 first-rounder maintain that level of play through the final four games of the regular season. If he does it Monday night, Joe Flacco may get to know him.

Enjoying a break: The Colts beat the Titans in Nashville on Thursday night. Both teams are enjoying a restful weekend that could give them a bit of an advantage next week. The Colts are home for a key game against the Jaguars, and wouldn’t mind an Oakland win and the Raiders doing their best to beat up Jacksonville. The Titans will have a long rest while Houston will have a short one after a Monday night game in advance of its trip to Tennessee.