The Jacksonville Jaguars are playing for a division championship and playoff spot on Sunday, and will likely be without two of their biggest offensive contributors this season -- quarterback David Garrard and running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
With Trent Edwards and running back Rashad Jennings likely filling in for their injured counterparts, how will this impact what the team does offensively against the Houston Texans? Here are three things to keep in mind:
• With Jennings in for Drew, the Jaguars may try to run to the outside more, specifically the left side. Jones-Drew led the NFL in rushes up the middle this season, but Jennings has the capability to go in other directions. In a limited sampling of 20 carries to the left side, he’s averaged 8.8 yards. Even if you take out his 74-yard run against the Raiders, he’s averaged better than five-yards per carry on such runs. The Texans rate slightly better than league average this season on left-side runs, allowing 4.6 yards per rush.
• One area where Edwards may have an advantage over Garrard is when the Texans bring extra pressure. During the 2008 season in which he was 7-7 in 14 starts for the Bills, Edwards completed 66 percent of his 90 pass attempts against blitzes, with four touchdowns and only one interception.
Admittedly his personnel were different from that which Garrard has worked with the last couple of seasons. In the last two years, Garrard has 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions against blitzes.
• The Jaguars are going to have to find success from someone else in the red zone. Garrard has thrown 16 touchdowns, with no interceptions in the red zone this season, with the fourth-best passer rating (113.8, min. 10 attempts). Garrard and Jones-Drew have also combined for seven of the Jaguars’ eight rushing touchdowns in goal-to-go situations.
The Texans did well defending Tim Tebow inside their own 20 yard line last week (he was 0-for-5). This week, their focus will be Edwards, who is 2-for-7 with an interception inside the red zone this season, 10-for-24 with two interceptions over the last two seasons.
The unfortunate thing from a Jaguars perspective is that Garrard and Jones-Drew both have great histories against the Texans. Garrard has completed 67 percent of his throws against Houston in the last three seasons, including 30-of-43 in the fourth quarter. Jones-Drew averaged nearly 100 yards per game against them on the ground in that span.
Sunday will be a chance for a couple of new names to make history and possibly push their team into the postseason.