When these two teams first played each other in week 3, both were facing uncertainty, and neither side really knew what kind of a team they had. The Titans had decided to stick with Kerry Collins, even though Vince Young was healthy enough to play. The Texans, more seriously, were dealing with the aftereffects of Hurricane Ike and had just come off a rescheduled bye week. The Titans started slowly, but their defense clamped down, and they would go on to win 31-12. The Titans would then go on win their next 7 games, while the Texans dropped their next two before beating Miami. So after that dreadful start Houston has gone 6-3. In 2007, the Texans closed out their season by winning 3 of 4. So the Titans need to do more than just show up.
Titans Rushing Offense vs. Texans Defense
The Texans have some talent in the front seven, led by youngsters Demarco Ryan (LB) and Mario Williams (DE). Unfortunately for Houston, this has not yet translated into improved performance, especially against the run. This has been a perennial problem for this team: allowing other teams to control the ball in the second half of games, wearing down the whole defense, and putting pressure on the offense to constantly make big plays (Ask David Carr). They are currently giving up 127 yards a game on the ground, which ranks 24th in the league. On the Titans side, Chris Johnson plus indoors equals track meet, and LenDale White still thinks he can make it to 1000 yards for the season (he is at 674 yards right now).
Titans Passing Offense vs. Texans Defense
In week 3 against the Texans, future country music star, Kerry Collins wasn’t doing the things that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing him do over the last couple of weeks. His timing was clearly off, he was scrambling (3 carries for 30 yards!), and his longest pass of the day (37 yards) to Justin McCareins probably wasn’t even a catch. Since then, Collins has become much more comfortable in the offense; he mainly throws to Bo Scaife and Chris Johnson, uses his wideouts on third-and-long, and, to add a little spice, throws a few deep balls off the play-action. Sure its predictable (haters might call it boring), but you can’t argue with results. Last year at Houston, Collins filled in for an injured Vince Young and threw for 280 yards. We shouldn’t need that from Kerry this time, but expect him to play well.
Texans Rushing Offense vs. Titans Defense
Texans rookie RB Steve Slaton had his coming out party against the Titans in week 3, with 116 yards on 18 carries. He’s been on fire lately, rushing for over 120 yards in 3 of his last 4 games. But lets look at those stats a little closer: against Tennessee he ran for 104 yards in the first half (including a 50 yard scamper), in the second half he gained 12 yards on 9 carries; those 3 120+ games were against teams playing shoddy run defense; his last game against a team with a good rushing defense (Ravens) he gained 7 yards. The Titans defense is a proud unit, it was embarrassed by Slaton in that first half, and we’re sure they haven’t forgotten about it.
Texans Passing Offense vs. Titans Defense
Texans QB Matt Schaub was a turnover machine in Week 3. He threw 3 interceptions, fumbled twice (losing one), and got sacked 3 times. But with some legitimate weapons to throw to, Schaub has actually settled down and had a nice year. WR Andre Johnson is the best at his position in the AFC South (Justin Gage– I’m sure your mom thinks you’re handsome) and among the very best in the league; TE Owen Daniels and WR Kevin Walter have also been productive. The Titans will be without DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (with that scary lingering groin injury), but we’ve proven now that we can generate a pass-rush without him. Our corners and linebackers continue to hit hard and play excellent coverage: special shout-out to Nick Harper, who has been really laying the wood lately. Maybe playing on the other side of future Pro-Bowler Cortland Finnegan has taken some pressure off him, but seems Nick to be playing a freer game.
Texans’ punt returner Jacoby Jones is a threat, he’s already returned two for touchdowns this year. Titans’ returner Chris Carr is also having a good year, and I’d be mildly surprised if he ends the year without a touchdown. Our punter is better then theirs, and Texans kicker Kris Brown is 10 out of 10 at home on field goals. 10? hmmm… thats pretty close to 8, which is how many Rob Bironas kicked in ONE GAME last year in Houston.
Houston is on a three game winning-streak; they have a chance to finish third in the division, an honor thats escaped them since their 7-9 campaign in 2004. Seriously, I dont mean to rub it in, but their best finish was third. And they did that once. The Titans want to wrap up home-field for the playoffs, so LenDale White can go out and get drunk and gain 35 pounds in the next three weeks a team with quite a few youngsters wont have to worry about road playoff games.
Final Score: Titans 34 Texans 17