Knowing what’s coming: The Texans are the only team dropping back to pass (including sacks and scrambles) on fewer than 50 percent of their plays this season (46.3 percent). Typically an opponent would intend to stop the run and force the pass. But it seems dangerous for the Titans to want to defend the pass, considering how they’ve been giving up plays. But a defense still wants to get into pass-rush situations. On the other side, the Titans have dropped back to pass a league-high 75.9 percent of the time this season. That’s got to make the quality rushers along the Houston defensive front salivate.
Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars hope to get their passing game going against the soft Bengals.
In need of a jolt: Perhaps the game-winning 80-yard touchdown pass from Blaine Gabbert to Cecil Shorts on Sunday in Indianapolis will have some sort of carryover effect for the Jaguars. If the Bengals' three-game sample is any indication, the Jaguars should be able to find pass plays in this matchup. The Bengals are allowing 34 points per game and 416.7 yards per game. Per ESPN Stats & Information, Cincinnati is one of three teams that has not intercepted a pass this season, and that was an issue last season when they had 10 interceptions. Jacksonville's Laurent Robinson is probably out after suffering a concussion. Struggling Justin Blackmon, Shorts, Mike Thomas and Kevin Elliott need to make some plays.
Don’t overthink it: I think the timing of the Colts' bye invites them to overanalyze the state of things. Coming off a difficult, last-minute loss to Jacksonville is tough. But they can’t let it have more of a bearing on them than it should. They come off the bye to face Green Bay, a team that will be very difficult to defend, given the Colts' coverage issues. Indianapolis has added cornerback Darius Butler, and it has two guys rehabbing injuries: starter Vontae Davis and nickelback Justin King. Those guys healing up might be the most important issue for the team during a weekend off.
Coverage issues: If Houston cornerback Johnathan Joseph (groin) doesn’t play and is replaced by Alan Ball, that certainly will help the Titans. But then, Tennessee could be without Kenny Britt (ankle). Joseph covers the top wide receiver, so he likely would draw Britt a great deal. The drop-off from Joseph to Ball should be bigger than the drop-off from Britt to Kendall Wright, but that’s mostly about how good Joseph is. Joseph is likely the Texans' most indispensable player, but this is a matchup they can win without him if necessary.
Also: The Texans seek the first 4-0 NFL start in the city’s history. They’ve never done it, and the franchise never did it in its 37 seasons in Houston as the Oilers, either. … Gabbert has led the Jaguars on two go-ahead drives in the fourth quarter this season, and he is one of three quarterbacks with at least 50 pass attempts not to have thrown an interception. … Houston's Andre Johnson needs 132 receiving yards for 10,000. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, if Johnson gets there this week, he would become the sixth-fastest to 10,000 yards (in terms of games played; this is his 126th).