Like Bill O'Brien, I believe in accountability with every fiber of my being. It is with that in mind that I come before you and admit that perhaps I could have done a little better in my predictions last week. I may have left out a few important things, like the Texans falling behind 41-0 by halftime, Arian Foster going down with a season-ending injury, and you losing the will to live while watching all of it happen. And yeah, maybe I should have said something about Ryan Mallett missing the team charter and subsequently getting fired. I can understand why you might want to know those things. I dropped the ball like I was C.J. Fiedorowicz, Garrett Graham, or some other insulting excuse for a Houston tight end. I'm sorry.
There. I owned it which, at NRG Park, means all is forgiven. Are we cool now? Because like your Houston Texans, I don't learn from my mistakes. It's time to predict precisely what will happen when the Texans and Titans square off in one of the saddest excuses for a professional football game you're gonna see all year!
1. Very quietly, Brian Hoyer is becoming a great quarterback for the limited purpose of fantasy football. When the game starts, the Texans' offense looks impotent, leading to lots of three and outs. The Texans' defense then takes the field and operates as though no one has a clue what their assignment is, leading to the opposing team scoring easily and frequently. The Texans are inevitably down at least 17 points at half, which means the opposition starts playing a soft defense designed to ensure no defender gets hurt and Hoyer gets to sling it all over the yard, finishing with a stat line that makes him look competent to anyone who didn't watch the first half of the game. It's magical.
Unfortunately for Hoyer fantasy owners (and there are a few of you, though you'd never admit it), I don't foresee this game getting out of hand. In fact, I expect it to mirror the Texans' epic victory over the Buccaneers in Week Two in many ways. Hoyer will throw for less than 220 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. It's the football equivalent of cottage cheese. I hate cottage cheese.
2. Taking my prediction of an effort similar to what we saw against the Bucs a step further, I expect Alfred Blue to get a lot of work. Unlike Blue's game against the Bucs, however, I do not foresee much success. If Arian Foster was playing, I'd be giddy about Houston's prospects on the ground (or as giddy as I can get in the midst of this nightmare of a season). Blue? Meh. Mark him down for 78 yards on 18 carries. A Texans running back will score a touchdown, but it'll be Chris Polk, not Blue or Jonathan Grimes.
3. Whether it's Marcus Mariota or Zach Mettenberger under center for the Titans, Tennessee's offensive line is an issue. In addition to problems protecting the quarterback, the Titans have had trouble running the ball. I foresee Tennessee being able to move the ball on the ground against Houston's non-existent run defense, but I like Houston's (read: J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney) chances to make some plays in the passing game. The Texans' pass rush will sack the Titans' QB four (4) times on Sunday and will force at least one fumble.
PUT YOUR NAME ON IT: Look, I know no one in his right mind should be picking the Texans to win a game. They're terrible. But hear me out. The Titans are really bad, too. I'm not even going to pull out the "Texans are at home" card, because I don't think that matters much; NRG Stadium will likely resemble a mausoleum on Sunday afternoon. I believe the Texans are going to do just enough to win a game that will be very little fun to watch and won't make us feel any better about their chances over the second half of a brutal schedule. Texans 16, Titans 13.
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