It’s early in the season. I have no clue what to make of the Texans. The tale told by each of the first three games is so different from the last on both sides of the ball.
Let’s see how the BRB staff feels about Houston’s first 2017 meeting with Marcus Mariota and the Titans.
Tim: Texans 24, Titans 20.
Deshaun Watson will deliver us from 1-3 in his first start at NRG Stadium. Believe it, and it shall be so.
BFmf’nD: Your Houston Texans 27, BE-SFs 24.
I see these teams as very equal with weaknesses and strengths on each side. I saw this game as a home field advantage game before the season started, and I still see it that way today.
MDC: Houston 41, Titans 9.
You're probably wondering how the Texans are going to score six TDs. Well, joke's on you -- they aren't! Ka'imi Fairbairn is going to kick 7 FGs (but miss an extra point). The Titans will not score a TD because J.J. Watt is going to knock Mariota out on the first play of the game, setting the tone for the kind of day that Tennessee deserves. Also, this will be the game where people outside of Houston start talking about Deshaun Watson being an early frontrunner for offensive rookie of the year.
Diehard Chris: Titans 23, Texans 20.
As a tastemaker in the realm of extreme, unreasonable Titans hatred, this one HURTS. I just think this Tennessee team is headed for a big improvement this year, and I have no clue what to make of this Texans team. The defense (specifically the DBs) and the offense (who is Deshaun Watson, really? Were the Patriots really that bad on defense, or were the Texans that good? Is it going to be a week-to-week whiplash with this offensive line where they careen from god-awful wretched garbage to simply far below average?)
I also allow for the possibility that Titans DC Dick LeBeau, with his vast experience, will change things up and throw a lot of confusing looks at Watson, just enough to get a turnover or two and keep Houston to around 20 points.
My biggest hope for Houston in this game originates from the fact that Tennessee didn’t exactly shut Seattle’s offense down last week, and Seattle is also a total disaster on the offensive line.
Tennessee’s rushing offense is proving quite formidable, and at the end of the day I just think it’s too much for Houston to handle. I say this every time I pick Houston to lose, but I never mean it more than I do right now: I so, SO hope I’m very wrong.
Titan Matt Weston, Slanderer of Blade Runner and a Huge Fan of the Texas Rangers, Who Were Recently Eliminated from Playoff Contention by the Houston Astros After a Three-Game Series Combined Score of 37-7 and Were Subsequently Found Dead in a Gutter, Befitting Their Lot in Life: Titans 27, Texans 20.
TITAN UP, baby!
My heart was black, cold, shriveled and broken like a charred infant from On The Road after Blake Bortles morphed into a quarterback with a full head of hair picking apart Antwon Blake in a win over the broken legged Titans and Fat Randy missed his revenge failed goal last Christmas Eve. The division was clinched. The Week 17 AFC South Championship game was cancelled. Something that was supposed to mean everything ended up meaning nothing.
After waiting so long for the AFC South to finally have competitive divisional games that actually meant something, Houston versus Tennessee specifically, I am soaring like a carrion in a vector. Houston is trying not to turn next week's Sunday Night Football game against Kansas City into a season-saving endeavor and hopes to continue to inflate their record by devouring the AFC South. Tennessee is attempting to continue meeting preseason expectations and to finally start winning AFC South games. It's as important as an early season game can be.
Added to all of that is Houston finally having a real quarterback, Adoree Jackson versus Will Fuller V, Adoree Jackson versus one of the worst punt units in the league, the Cerberus of J.J. Watt-Whitney Mercilus-Jadeveon Clowney versus one of the best offensive lines in the league, Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan versus seeping tackle pass blocking, Jurrell Casey's butt crack, Bill O'Brien rekindling the outside zone flame, exotic methmouth, being thankful that Mike Mularkey isn't my dentist, Marcus Mariota’s precision passing, and on and on and on and on.
Sunday is going to be a lot of fun. It's going to be wet and wild. Tennessee will probably win, and Adoree Jackson is 100% going to return a punt for a touchdown.
Luke Beggs: Texans 27, Titans 21.
The Texans’ D vs Titans’ O will the premier match-up, but it's gonna be all about how the Texans’ offense does against a Titans’ defense that is coming off giving up 27 points to a Seahawks offense that has a set of ornamental cardboard cutouts for an offensive line.
Against the Bengals, we had dual RBs chipping pass rushers before breaking out into the flat. Last week, we had extensive use of play action to get Deshaun Watson out of the pocket, using his mobility to create space. I've no idea what kind of voodoo the Texans will pull out this week, but I think it'll be enough against a Titans defense that does have a few talented players on the front seven but isn't quite strong enough to hold off the Texans.
Good lord, I'm being optimistic about the Texans’ offense.
Kenneth L: Titans 30, Texans 20.
The Texans looked great last week against the Pats, but they were on a mini-bye week after playing the Bengals on Thursday Night Football. The Titans’ biggest problem with the Texans has always been the pass rush, and unless J.J. can drum up a revitalized performance, I think Mariota picks us apart. If old man Eric Decker has 10 receptions, I wouldn't be surprised. The Texans can win if they stick it to the Titans early and command the clock. I want to see our RBs rush for over 170 yards.
Capt. Ron: Texans 28, Titans 17.
The evolution of the copycat league continues. In more recent years, offenses were shifting to acquire personnel for speed and finesse, deploying more agile linemen (especially in zone-blocking schemes), speedy running backs, and even mobile quarterbacks in some cases. Defenses responded with quicker, leaner linemen, linebackers, and safeties.
Now, in some cases, we are witnessing a shift back to the more "old school" model of bigger linemen and powerful running backs to hammer through lighter, leaner defenses. The Titans and Jaguars have both led the way in this effort. Unfortunately for them, the Texans' defense is built quite well to shut down this type of running game.
My game plan for Houston would be as follows:
I have concerns about Mariota getting loose, so I'd task Zach Cunningham (and Jadeveon Clowney at times) to spy him all game and contain him. Then have Watt, Clowney, Christian Covington and D.J. Reader lead the way to shutting down the running backs. Deshaun Watson and the offense should have no issues with the Titans' defense.
Without any screw-ups by special teams or the Texans’ secondary, the score should be Texans 21, Titans 0 by halftime. That would put the Titans' "exotic smash-mouth" plans into the dumpster and force Mariota to win with his arm, at which point Houston's pass rush closes out the game in spectacular fashion in front of a thunderous crowd.
Because I don't trust the Texans' special teams coverage or the defensive secondary, I'm assuming Tennessee will at least notch 17 points.
Brett Kollmann: Titans 21, Texans 20.
Deshaun Watson might legitimately be the only shot the Texans have to win this game - and he might be able to pull it out - but in the end, I still think Tennessee comes away with the victory. They have some pass rushers in the front seven that can take advantage of Houston's terrible offensive line, and their three-headed rushing monster of DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry, and Marcus Mariota has the capability to exhaust Houston’s defense if Watson struggles early. The Titans are NOT a team you want to fall behind against, so if the Texans want to win this game, they need to score on at least two of their first three possessions.
Mike Bullock: Texans 34, Titans 31.
Watson and Mariota light some offensive fires, but Houston’s better defense holds the line in the end.
There you have it - a lot of varying opinions - on many sides! On many sides.
Please give us all your sides in the comments below and let us know how you think this one shakes out.