After getting the teeth smashed out of their heads and skittered across the field for an entire nation to witness, the Houston Texans are back for what we all hope will be the proverbial "get well game" against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium on Sunday. Houston will no doubt be highly motivated to remove the stank of Thursday Night Football and to finish the first quarter of the season at 3-1 which, honestly, is about the best-case realistic scenario we could have hoped for several months back.
Can the defense get back to domination? Can the offense put together its first consistently-impressive game of the season? Let’s see what the BRB staff has to say about it...
BFMF’nD: Texans 34, Titans 6.
For the past 20 years, the BE-SFs of Methoptamia have been the worst run organization in football. That they are an absolute dumpster fire is no more striking than it is today, accentuated by a head coach who thinks he's intelligent and is taking football back to the 1930s. Only an organization as inept and bereft of football knowledge as this one would ever hire Mike Mularkey as head coach.
As you will see, Luke says: "Time to return to the status quo of beating the other terrible teams in the AFC South." Expectations higher than this are possibly misplaced, but this is a weak division, and Nashville should be burned to the ground and the earth salted.
Capt. Ron: Texans 12, Titans 9.
The Texans are averaging 14 points per game, and the Titans averaging 14 points per game. The Texans' defense is allowing an average of 17.7 points per game, and the Titans are allowing an average of 19 points per game. Houston is playing at home, so they "should" have some measurable advantage.
The loss of J.J. Watt will have an unfortunate impact to the defense, as teams will likely now scheme to limit Jadeveon Clowney with double and triple teams. I guess we'll never know if he is the "generational talent" worthy of the first overall pick or not.
Bill O'Brien's offense has been anemic for going on three seasons now, particularly in the red zone, so (until proven otherwise) I have no faith in Houston's ability to consistently put up offensive points. The Texans offense will put up less than their 14 points per game average, and the Texans defense (even without Watt) will limit the Titans offense below their average.
All that being said, I'm going with a "field goal festival at NRG" with the Texans eeking out a win.
Luke Beggs: Texans 28, Titans 14.
Time to return to the status quo of beating the other terrible teams in the AFC South.
Brett: Texans 20, Titans 10.
At this point in the season nothing would surprise me, but I still think the Texans win this game. It probably won't be a blowout because the Titans really are not as bad of a team as they once were, but I could still see this being a two possession game when the final clock hits zeroes.
Matt Weston: Texans 23, Titans 17.
This week I'm three beers away from taking the Titans. After all of those years of wasted time and sunk costs in their offensive line, their run game is actually good this year. Ben Jones looks better than he did in Houston, Taylor Lewan has made a leap in run blocking and has been awesome at the second level, and everyone else there is good enough. In addition to this, DeMarco Murray is cutting and spinning and breaking tackles and looks much more at home running straight ahead instead of all that horizontal zone nonsense he ran in Philadelphia. This, mixed with the loss of Watt, who loves to eat the Titans like they do their own children, and the way LeGarrette Blount/Brisset ran against the Texans makes me wary. This won't be the daughters taken to the slaughter like the last four matchups have been.
I'm still going with the Texans for two reasons. The first is the Titans passing attack is butt. Marcus Mariota is taking snaps and quickly throwing to a predetermined player he sees presnap. This is leading to a lot of throws into coverage. Tennessee is also running a lot of isolation routes and they don't have the receiving talent to get open in these ways. I mean the team is using Andre Johnson as a deep threat. The scheme and the talent is limiting Mariota passing wise. The second is the Titans' secondary is also butt. They are 25th in DVOA against #1 receivers, 8th v. #2 receivers, and 23rd v. other receivers. Jason McCourty is fine, but Perrish Cox and Kitten-Kitten Brice McCain are the other two corners, and they don't have the safety talent to come across the field and make plays on the ball. Like the Chicago game, this is the type of game Brock Osweiler needs to and should play well. Both Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins should have huge games.
Chris: Texans 24, Titans 10.
F it, dude. Let's go bowling.
UprootedTexan: Texans 23, Titans 17.
In Texans history, traditionally after the team gets pantsed the way they did in New England, the Texans have this really great/infuriating habit of bouncing back and looking really competent-to-good against total pig swill.
Make no mistake, Tennessee is pig swill (they're actually worse, but I want to make sure this post is safe for work), and still the least consequential member of this division. If Houston cannot win this game without J.J. Watt, then they have much bigger problems than a missing superstar.
Houston wins comfortably, if not easily against the Traitors, and then we can begin razing Nashville to the ground.
Tim: Texans 24, Titans 13.
The Titans are better than they were last year, which is sort of like saying the prettiest girl in Oklahoma managed to find some lipstick. The horror still lurks just beneath the surface.
I foresee this being a game that makes Texans fans breathe a bit easier about the team’s prospects for success without J.J. Watt. While I don’t think the Texans’ defense will shut DeMarco Murray down entirely, slowing him will be the focus of the game plan, and I don’t see enough weapons in the passing game for Marcus Mariota to keep Romeo Crennel honest. Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus will be in Mariota’s kitchen all afternoon and, as athletic as Mariota is, I think you’ll see him throwing the ball away and running out of bounds an inordinate amount of times.
The real story for the Texans will be the offense. I fully expect them to get right on Sunday. Specifically, look for Brock Osweiler to complete a few long passes down the field to Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins, which will serve to open up the soft middle, where Brock will do a better job attacking than he has so far this young season. It’s not exactly high praise to say that Osweiler will produce against the team that had the worst record in the NFL last year, but it’s going to happen.
We’ll all feel better about the Texans on Sunday night.
Mike Bullock: Texans 16, Titans 13.
A few weeks ago, I would have chalked this up as an easy blowout for the Texans. But the offense can't seem to get on the same page and the defense just lost J.J. Watt - an irreplaceable player. This is the same defense that was already susceptible to the run.
Tennessee's one offensive strength is their running game. They rank #8 in rushing so far this season, with a 5.1 yard per carry average. Houston's defense ranks 25th against the run (with Watt) coughing up yards at 4.8 per carry. The last time Titans tailback DeMarco Murray faced the Texans, he only managed to gain 136 rushing yards and another 56 through the air. If Houston lets that happen again, this game could quickly get out of hand.
Toss in a Houston special teams receiving unit that's so bad the only thing between them and the league's basement is the laughingstock Cleveland Browns. Then consider the x-factor of Andre Johnson trying to put meaning to this game for him, and Sunday has "Nightmare On NRG Street" written all over it.
Unless Brock Osweiler steps up and plays to his potential, the coaching staff does the same, and the return men and their blockers stop vying for worst in the league, the Texans' defense won't be able to pick up all their slack yet again.
However, Houston does seem to have a way of blasting a weak opponent the week after a blowout loss, so hopefully that trend continues. If they get a resounding win, fans will turn the page on last week's brutal loss to New England. If they lose, expect the calls for Bill O'Brien's head on a pink slip laden pike to reach a crescendo by Monday morning.
All that being said, my Battle Red/rose colored crystal ball says Houston squeaks out another not-so-convincing win against the AFC South doormat Titans. Houston takes it to move to 3-1 before the horror of facing the Minnesota Vikings defense next week.
How do you see it, BRB? Feel free to share your thoughts and predictions in the comments section below.
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