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Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans Preview
By Starkiller
Posted December 9th, 2005

The Titans host the Houston Texans this Sunday in the game of the weak. Tennessee (3-9) was soundly drubbed by the Colts last week. Houston (1-11) lost a nail biter to the Ravens. This game is off the leagueís radar outside of draft position, but it should probably be pretty close.

When the Titans Run
Chris Brown has had a pretty average season this year. He has 181 carries for 724 yards on (4.0 yards per carry) and five TDs. Brown also comes into this week with an ankle injury that has been nagging him for a few weeks, so expect him to split carries with Travis Henry if it continues to bother him. For the season, Henry has 51 carries for 201 yards (4.0 YPC), but has gotten limited time on the field for much of the year.

The Texans are ranked at the bottom of the league against the run. Former Titan Robaire Smith is Houstonís best lineman. DE Gary Walker and NT Seth Payne are not nearly what they used to be a few years ago. Houstonís LBs arenít particularly good either. Kailee Wong, their best linebacker, is out for the season. Former 1st round pick Jason Babin is on the bench. Newcomer Morlon Greenwood leads the team in tackles, but clearly he hasnít been the difference maker they were hoping for when they signed him. Wongís replacement, DaShon Polk, has probably been their best run stopper since taking the job. On the outside, starters Shantee Orr and Antwan Peek are passrushing types and not especially good against the run.

Advantage: Titans

When the Titans Pass
QB Steve McNairís season has been a disappointment, and itís not likely to pick up now that two rookie WRs are out for the year. McNair has thrown for 2609 yards, 14 TDs and nine INTs with a 62.3% completion rate. WR Drew Bennett leads the team with 551 receiving yards on 43 catches, but has just one TD. Tight end Erron Kinney, the teamís leader in receptions, is out with a knee injury. Also out are rookie WRs Brandon Jones and Roydell Williams, easily the second and third most productive WRs this year. That means WR Tyrone Calico and TE Ben Troupe need to step up and fulfill some of their potential. Tennessee QBs have been sacked 25 times this year, which is about average.

Houston has also been one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL this year, ranking last in QB rating allowed. Second year CB Dunta Robinson has been good, but the Texans need more. CB Demarcus Faggins gets his first start in weeks after missing time with a bad hamstring. Safeties CC Brown and Glenn Earl are not particularly good. Houstonís pass rush has improved, but just slightly. The leaders are at OLB, as Orr has five sacks and Peek has four. Polk has picked up 3.5 sacks. Seth Payne, the only defensive lineman with multiple sacks, has three.

Advantage: Titans

When the Texans Run

Houston has at least been adequate running the ball. RB Domanick Davis has not had a great season, though he is dangerous. He has 208 carries for just 837 yards (4.0 YPC) and two scores. Before last weekís 155 rushing yards, Davisí only good game came against the Titans in their first meeting when he had 130 yards rushing (plus 43 receiving yards). Starting right guard Victor Riley was released this week, so heíll be replaced by 4th year player Fred Weary who has started just three times since his rookie season.

Tennesseeís run defense has been solid as of late after an up-and-down year. DT Albert Haynesworth has been excellent when he has been healthy. DT Randy Starks has been solid but hasnít really lived up to expectations after an impressive rookie season. DE Kyle Vanden Bosch has done a very good job against the run. OLB Keith Bulluck is a playmaker and the Titans need his athleticism on defense. Peter Sirmon has struggled much of the year while Brad Kassell is just an overachiever in the middle.

Advantage: Even

When the Texans Pass

Houstonís passing offense is one of the worst the league. QB David Carr has thrown for 1904 yards, 11 TDs, and nine INTs. He has thrown for 200+ yards in a game just twice this year. Third year WR Andre Johnson is a great player, but he is having his worst season in the NFL. He has just 45 catches for 488 yards and one TD this year because teams constantly double team him to take him out of the game. None of the Texansí other WRs can compare to Johnson. WR Jabar Gaffney has 48 receptions for 444 yards and two TDs, but isnít considered much of a threat. Domanick Davis is a good receiver out of the backfield, totaling 32 catches for 287 yards and three receiving TDs. Carr has been sacked and NFL worst 55 times this year. Once again, as has been the case every year, the Texans have a pathetic offensive line and Carr is getting abused.

The Titansí young secondary continues to improve, but they always find ways to make costly mistakes. Rookie CB Pacman Jones is definitely improving, but his technique still needs some work. Reynaldo Hill has been a big surprise, but after making some big plays he has also given up some big ones. FS Lamont Thompson has been solid, but SS Tank Williams is a disappointment. The Titans have 28 sacks this season, yet the pass rush has been inconsistent. But they did rack up seven sacks when they last played Houston, so they plan to cause a Carr crash. Vanden Bosch leads the team with 9.5 sacks. DE Travis LaBoy has 4.5 sacks while backup DT Rien Long has 3.5 sacks.

Advantage: Titans

Titansí punter Craig Hentrich is having a solid season and 1st year kicker Rob Bironas has been a pleasant surprise. The Texans have a good punter and kicker tandem in Chad Stanley and Kris Brown, respectively.

Advantage: Even

Return Game
Pacman has taken over all of the return work recently, and has been a big play guy. He has made a few mistakes in fielding balls, but when he makes the catch he has been a threat to break it. Coverage teams have been pretty good on kickoffs, but they have been great on punts.

Houstonís kickoff returner, rookie speedster Jerome Mathis, is ranked 2nd in the league. Mathis and Davis have been splitting the punt return duties with solid results. Houstonís coverage teams have been excellent on punts but struggle on kickoffs.

Advantage: Titans

Fearless Prediction

Tennessee has struggled all year long, but the Texans have been much worse. Houston has played it close in their last two games, but still canít get over the hump. These two teams always seem to play close games, even when the Titans were at the top of the division and the Texans were at the bottom. All it takes is a few big plays by Andre Johnson or Domanick Davis and the Texans can steal a win, but Tennessee has the clear advantage going into Sunday.

Titans 23, Texans 17

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Titans 17
Seahawks 13
V. Young:
17/28, 171 yards,
1 INT, LG 29,
RT 63.2
C. Johnson:
36/134, 3.7 AVG, 2 TDs, LG 12
N. Washington:
6/83, 13.8 AVG,
LG 29

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Total Offense
Total: 351.4
Passing: 189.4
Rushing: 162.0
Scoring Avg.: 22.1
Total Defense 28th
Total: 365.6
Passing: 258.7
Rushing: 106.9
Scoring Avg.: 25.1

V. Young
Attempts: 259
Completions: 152
Yards: 1879
Touchdowns: 10
Interceptions: 7
Passer Rating: 82.8
C. Johnson
Carries: 358
Yards: 2006
Average: 5.6
Touchdowns: 14
K. Britt
Receptions: 42
Yards: 701
Average: 16.7
Touchdowns: 3

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