The AFC South is all over the place this season. The Texans started 0-3 and are now leading the division at 7-3. The heavily favored Jaguars have been a disaster. The Titans destroyed the Patriots, but have suffered ugly losses to the Bills, Colts, and a shutout loss to the Ravens. The Colts, once summarily dismissed, are suddenly rising as Andrew Luck appears to be his old self (along with an offensive line that looks to be gelling nicely).
NRG Stadium should be rocking tonight, and of course it will be impossible not to think of the loss of Bob McNair. It will be an emotional evening, and we’ll see which way that swings the events on the field, if at all.
Here’s how the BRB staff sees this one playing out...
Chris: Texans 23, Titans 20.
The Texans really need to get their [kitten] together if they want to be more than a team that gets bounced in the first round of the NFL Playoffs. Once Houston plays a team with a real quarterback, we may have a better idea of what the team really is. Right now I STILL don’t have the first clue. I’d feel much better about the Texans if they were easily dispatching bad teams (or teams with decent records that are clearly not very good), but they’re not. Instead, other than the explosion against the Dolphins, it’s a constant struggle on offense, and the defense, when facing bad quarterbacks, has managed to hold up juuuuust long enough to win a few games. The Titans don’t have a great quarterback, but sadly they’ve already shown they can outcoach Bill O’Brien and the Texans’ staff as a whole.
I think the Texans do just barely enough (again) for the win Monday.
Capt. Ron: Texans 24, Titans 17.
I would typically look at a prime-time divisional game like this as a potential trap situation that leads to a loss in front of a frustrated home crowd. However, the Texans continue to slowly improve in areas where they under-performed earlier this season. They also continue to find a way to overcome injury losses throughout the roster.
The biggest stars are still intact late in the season (for once), and they can carry any game, notwithstanding the questionably conservative approach by O’Brien on offense. Throw in the fact that Bob McNair passed away this weekend, and Houston has a LOT to play for on Monday night, including a continued meaningful march toward the AFC South title.
I expect there will be a pre-game moment of silence and tremendous appreciation expressed from the players and crowd for the man who brought the NFL back to Houston. This will fuel the team to victory no matter how much O’Brien tries to suppress the on-field options with mind-numbingly predictable play calling.
Titan Matt Weston: Texans 20, Titans 16.
Tennessee has to run the ball to win the game. The Texans have the best run defense in football. Repeat this analysis for the rest of 2018.
BFmf’nD: Titans 20, Texans 16.
The Texans have won their last two games off of missed game-winning field goals by our opponent. That’s not a thing that happens often in the NFL, and it underlies on how much pure, one-score luck the Texans must rely upon to be successful. The Texans are now 5-3 in one-score games in 2018.
While I fully and 100% agree with Big Matt’s flowchart, and I hate the BE-SFs with all of my being, this one feels like a regression to the mean kind of game.
Jeremy Brener: Titans 17, Texans 16.
I have a flowchart that I would like to share as well.
Does Jeremy pick the Texans to win?
Texans lose. Texans win.
It’s not as fancy as Big Matt’s, but it will have to do.
Mike Bullock: Texans 19, Titans 16.
I’m still not buying that Mike Vrabel is a head coaching phenom. After they took it to the Pats, it seems like the Titans peaked too early.
Feel free to use the comments section below to get your predictions out there, and enjoy another prime time Texans game!