(Mandatory Image Credit: Thomas Shea / USA Today Sports)
Written By: Joseph Yun
The Titans are in an ever plunging spiral with the nation wide cold blast to prove which force of nature is on a colder streak. Conveniently, the Houston Texans come to Nashville to battle the glacial brain of Tennessee offensive coordinator Todd Downing and mind numbing wintry elements. Who will win in this unsought after remake of Green Bay’s Frozen Tundra? Tennessee desperately needs a win to keep apace with the rampaging Jacksonville Jaguars. Houston can “win” by losing in an effort to solidify its standing in the race for the draft’s top selection. Can Tennessee overcome its catastrophic injury situation and defeat Old Man Winter ®'s best shots along with the hated Texans?
Texans’ key numbers + info
Note: All statistics courtesy of pro-football-reference.com
HC: Lovie Smith (90-99-1 career)
OC: Pep Hamilton
2022 Record: 1-12-1 (1-0-1 AFC South)
PPG Against: 24,6
Rush yards: 1,263
Rush yards allowed: 2,345
Avg. per rush attempt: 3.9
Avg per attempt allowed: 4.9
Pass completion rate: 61%
Pass completion allowed: 64%
Leading Rusher: Dameon Pierce (220 attempts for 939 yards and four touchdowns)
Leading Receiver: Brandin Cooks (44 receptions for 520 yards and one touchdown)
Leading Tackler: Jalen Pitre (117 tackles, five tackles for loss, three interceptions, one sack, one fumble recovery, six passes defended)
Key Additions: OL Kenyon Green (rookie), OL A.J. Cann, EDGE Jerry Hughes, EDGE Mario Addison, LB Christian Harris (rookie), CB Steven Nelson, TE O.J. Howard, S Jalen Pitre (rookie), DT Kurt Hinish (rookie), LB Jake Hansen (rookie), DE Rasheem Green, WR Amari Rodgers, TE Teagan Quitoriano (rookie), RB Royce Freeman
Key Losses: WR Chris Conley, OL Cedric Ogbeuhi, OL Marcus Cannon, CB Fabian Moreau, QB Deshaun Watson, RB Marlon Mack, DL Ross Blacklock (trade), WR John Metchie III (IR), LB Jonathan Greenard (IR), OL Justin Britt (NFI), RB David Johnson, QB Tyrod Taylor, LB Kamu Gregor-Hill, RB Dameon Pierce (rookie / IR), CB Derek Stingley, Jr (rookie / IR)
The Titans lead the all-time series 23-18. Since Mike Vrabel was named as Titans' head coach, the Titans have won six of nine matchups. In their six victories, Tennessee has outscored the Texans 183 to 140. The average margin of victory over the life of Vrabel’s tenure to date has been seven points. Houston and Tennessee have split the last four duels in Nashville at two apiece.
Keys to a Titans Victory
Music City Malik
- Third time’s the charm? Malik Willis will make his third start of the season due to an Ryan Tannehill injury. Unfortunately, Tannehill was placed on IR after reinjuring his already shaky ankle last week. Willis is 1-1 as a starter but has played in spots this year, mainly on trick plays. How will he fare in his third chance? The Titans signed favorite son and NFL veteran Joshua Dobbs as his backup so the pressure is on for the young signal caller to show out. He has shown flashes of his ability in his brief cameos. Can he show out in his first chance as a consistent starter?
- Once again, Tennessee has been wracked by injuries to key players including Ben Jones, Terrance Mitchell, Ryan Tannehill, and Dillon Radunz on IR, and Kristian Fulton and Nate Davis out. Good news is that Denico Autry and Treylon Burk are on track to play this weekend. Malik Willis will have a completely new and rejiggered offensive line in front of him. The Titans lead the league in personnel used by a significant margin AGAIN. The picture is bleak for Tennessee, even against the lowly yet competitive Texans. Can they come up with enough of a roster to field a winning team?
Keys to a Texans Victory
Stop and catch 22
- Derrick Henry has shown little aversion to being ruthlessly merciless to the Houston based organization. However, the Titans’ offensive line has been horrid and a shattered unit beset by injuries. The Texans could take advantage of the weakened unit and bottle up Henry in order to force Willis to beat them. A thing that the Tennessee offensive staff has shown little willingness to do.
Find a passing game
- The Texans struggle to pass the ball to say the least but that’s more of a talent thing. They have flipped between Davis Mills and Kyle Allen in recent weeks. They average a paltry 207 yards through the air. Unfortunately, Houston will miss their second leading receiver, Nico Collins for sure. Further hampering any chance of passing success is that both Chris Moore and Brandin Cooks are dealing with injury as well and are questionable. Tennessee has a league worst pass defense so there’s a slight window for the Texans to find a little footing. An advantage that could be negated with the bitterly cold temperatures and winds projected to enforce its will on the proceedings.
Injury Report - Texans @ Titans
What are the Odds?
(note: all odds courtesy of vegasinsider.com)
BetMGM has the Titans being three-point favorites at -115, the money line at -175 for Tennessee, and the Texans at +175. over/under is set at 35.5.
Caesar’s has the Titans being three-point favorites at -110, the money line at -170 for Tennessee, and the Texans at +143. The over/under is set at 35.5.
WynnBet has the Titans being 3.5-point favorites at +100, the money line at -165 for Tennessee, and the Texans at +140. The over/under is set at 35.5.
FanDuel has the Titans being 3.5-point favorites at -104, the money line at -172 for Tennessee, and the Texans at +144. over/under is set at 35.5
(courtesy of accuweather.com)