Texans @ Titans: From Hard Knocks To The Playoffs


When the 7-7 Houston Texans make the trip to Nashville for a week 16 match-up with the Tennessee Titans tomorrow, there will be an AFC Division title on the line and a trip to the playoffs. Beating the Titans is the first and most important step.

Who would have thought that while we were watching Hard Knocks during the NFL Training camps back in July, that head coach Bill O’Brien would have his team knocking at the division door in a division that had Andrew Luck and the perennial division champion Indianapolis Colts.

We watched as quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett competed for the starting job with neither giving the Texans’ staff enough confidence where they could really say they had their man.

Neither had the skills to be a franchise quarterback, but Hoyer provided the game manager skills that gave management a warm fuzzy, while Mallett had the big arm but was lacking the maturity to be the real leader this team needed.

But as luck would have it, (no pun intended here), with the injuries to Andrew Luck in Indianapolis, The Jacksonville Jaguars being a couple of years away from being a challenger, and the Titans being….the Titans, only a few things need to line up for one of the leagues best defenses to make the first round of the playoffs.

Here’s how it needs to shake out:

  1.  If Houston wins over the Titans, and the Colts lose or tie with the Miami Dolphins in Miami on Sunday.
  2. A Houston tie with the Titans and the Colts lose to the Dolphins.
  3. Houston wins plus Houston wins strength of victory tie-breaker over Colts, or Houston wins strength of schedule tie-breaker over the Colts.

Jon Zimmer at NFL History posted the tie breaking scenarios on Twitter:

The last match-up between these two teams on November first saw the departure of Ken Whisenhunt from the reigns in Music City, and ushered in the Mike Mularkey era.

Mularkey will be fighting to keep his job as the season winds down, and his fight will have to be waged without a lot of starters on both sides of the ball as many of them are trying to recover from a brutal season.

This includes rookie quarterback, Marcus Mariota as Zach Mettenberger will once again be asked to face that taunting Houston defense and J.J. Watt.

The second-year backup quarterback ran for his life in the first meeting, and I suspect he will continue to do the same behind a patch-work offensive line again tomorrow.

Next: Texans at Titans: Second Time Around

While the Houston Texans are on a trip from Hard Knocks to the playoffs tomorrow, the Tennessee Titans are on a course to turn their number two 2015 draft pick into a number one.

Nothing much has changed since last December in Music City.