Houston Texans-Tennessee Titans preview: Keys to game and who will win

By Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. File photo Gary C. Caskey/UPI
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. File photo Gary C. Caskey/UPI | License Photo

Tennessee Titans (1-5) at Houston Texans (2-5)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at NRG Stadium, Houston- TV: CBS


*TV announcers: Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots

*Keys to the game: As midseason approaches two teams with designs on unseating the Colts in the AFC South are following a pattern back to a top draft pick. Quarterback remains the ongoing drain on the Texans' offense, but Houston's defense has been surprisingly poor. The good news in the silver lining search is the Texans have won five of six in the series and did so with defense.

The Titans are stuck in no-man's land with rookie QB Marcus Mariota pushing to play with a sprained knee. At 1-5, the Titans are only two games out of first place in the division but putting Mariota in harm's way against DE J.J. Watt might not be a light bulb moment for the fledgling franchise. Backup Zach Mettenberger has three multi-TD games in seven career starts, but is loose with the ball and would need a massive boost from the running game to win on the road.

The Texans trust RB Alfred Blue to jump in for Arian Foster (Achilles) but their playmaker on offense is WR DeAndre Hopkins, who has 58 receptions and four 100-yard games in his past five starts. QB Brian Hoyer has been backed into hurry-up mode in the second half of most every game and needs to jump on the board early. The Texans are being outscored 135-39 in the first half this season.


*Matchup to watch - Watt vs. Titans offensive line: Watt has 35 tackles, 12 sacks, six passes defended, four forced fumbles and two passes defended against the Titans in eight career games and if Mettenberger gets the call, it could be a "selfie-starter" for Watt's high motor.

*Player spotlight - Titans RB Antonio Andrews: Andrews led the Titans with 57 yards on just 10 carries last week, and coach Ken Whisenhunt implied more work could be coming as the team searches for a featured back.

*Fast facts: Whisenhunt is in the midst of a five-game losing streak for the fifth consecutive season as a head coach. ... Watt is 1.5 sacks behind DeMarcus Ware for most sacks in the first five seasons of a career.


RB Alfred Blue and DE J.J. Watt play starring roles for Houston against a division rival the Texans have performed well against, sending the Titans back to the division basement.

*Our pick: Texans 24-23.

Latest Headlines