Oh, last Friday. Seems like a lifetime ago. Back then, there was hope. Optimism, even. Your Houston Texans were 5-5 and coming off an impressive win over the Browns in Cleveland. The Bengals were coming to town, and with a Houston win there, it wasn't very hard to see this team eventually improving to 8-5 with real, honest-to-goodness playoff aspirations in the middle of December.
Twas not meant to be. Instead of a big win over a familiar foe, the Texans laid an enormous egg, complete with a season-ending injury to Ryan Mallett. The Texans are 5-6, Ryan Fitzpatrick is Houston's quarterback again, and any dreams of a playoff berth are all but dead. The disappointment is palpable.
Like the Texans, we'll continue to play out the season here at "Three and Out," even if this week's post is far more labor than love. My crystal ball doesn't get to go on injured reserve, so I give you these predictions for Texans-Titans (Part II) on Sunday afternoon:
1. The last time these two teams met approximately a month ago, Zach Mettenberger was making his first start in the NFL. He's still looking for his first victory, but Mettenberger hasn't been awful. Not "Hey, we don't need to worry about drafting a QB in the first round because we've got Mettenberger" good, but not entirely horrendous. I expect him to play better against the Texans this time around, especially without Kareem Jackson available. Still, Mettenberger's gonna turn it over at least once, and I may be estimating low on that. I reckon he finishes with 260 yards passing, about a 60% completion rate, 2 TDs, and 1 INT.
2. Arian Foster makes his triumphant return to the field, and he picks up right where he left off. 21 carries, 113 yards, and 2 TDs for the second best player on the team.
3. With Ryan Fitzpatrick once again leading the offense, DeAndre Hopkins will become the unquestioned focus of the passing attack. The Titans kept Nuk out of the end zone in their last meeting. They won't be able to do it this week. Hopkins won't see 100 yards receiving; he'll have to be content with 73 yards and a TD.
PUT YOUR NAME ON IT: In "Three and Out" before the prior Texans-Titans game, I called the Titans "one of the five worst teams in football." That opinion has not changed one iota. While I expect Mettenberger to be improved from when the Texans saw him last month, there just isn't much talent around him. It'll be closer than the last matchup, but not that close. Texans 27, Titans 17.
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