Houston Texans vs Tennessee Titans: Game Preview

Houston is looking to take sole possession of the AFC South as they visit the Titans of Tennessee.
Photo Credit Angel Rick Leal

By Angel Rick Leal

Game Info
Houston Texans vs Tennessee Titans
Sunday December 15 – 12:00 p.m.
TV: CBS
Nissan Stadium – Nashville, Tn

Records Before Game
Houston Texans (8-5)
Tennessee Titans (8-5)

Houston Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins has played some of his best football against the Tennessee Titans. Today the Houston Texans will be playing in Nashville for what might be the biggest game of their series with the division rival. With both teams at 8-5, the winner will take over first place in the AFC South and takes one step closer to locking up a playoff berth.  Since his arrival in Houston in 2013, Hopkins has played 12 times against the Titans. Deshaun Watson was the starting quarterback for just three of those games. The two-time All-Pro receiver has caught a touchdown pass in two of those three contests, averaging 97 yards receiving per game against Tennessee when Watson is throwing to him.  In his 12 career starts against the AFC South opponent, Hopkins has put up 100-yard receiving performances in six of those games. As a rookie, his first 100-yard game was in Week 2 when the Texans defeated the Titans 30-24 in overtime. Andre Johnson left the game with a concussion late in the fourth quarter. In his NRG Stadium debut, Hopkins caught the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime. On November 30, 2014, Hopkins set single-game career highs in receiving yards against Tennessee. Hopkins put up a personal-best 238 yards receiving and scored two touchdowns. He averaged 26.4 yards per catch, which included a 58-yard touchdown throw from Ryan Fitzpatrick just before halftime. Later, Hopkins scored again on a 34-yard score in the third quarter. The Texans are 8-4 against the Tennessee Titans with Hopkins in the lineup. The seven-year veteran has caught 77 passes for 1,194 yards receiving and seven touchdowns in those games. The winner of this game clenches nothing in terms of playoff seeding, but said winner will be firmly in control of the playoff race with just two games remaining.

The Titans are the NFL’s top team in terms of converting red zone trips to touchdowns at 72.97% for the season. Since Week 7, they are converting touchdowns at an 86.4% clip, missing on only 3 trips to the red zone (one field goal, one fumble, one interception) in that span.  Titans RB Derrick Henry is the engine that drives the Titans offense. 1,052 of his 1,243 rushing yards have come after contact. Unfortunately, Henry did not practice all week. He insists he’ll be “ready to go” on Sunday, but he likely won’t be at 100%. Luckily for the Titans, this particular matchup may call for a little less Henry than usual, allowing the big back to regain his strength as the Titans prepare for for a possible playoff push.  

Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry continued their roll through the AFC last Sunday with a convincing win over the Oakland Raiders. It was a spot where a typical Titans team would seem to let you down, but this group keeps proving to be anything but typical.

Tennessee has won six of their last seven games, storming back into the playoff hunt — perhaps playing hotter than anyone else in the league right now other than the Baltimore Ravens. But if they want to finish the job, they’re going to have their work cut out for them over the final three weeks with the Houston Texans 2 out of those 3 games.

Game Prediction
Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans are hard to peg. It seems like you don’t know which team is going to show up, one week after getting plenty of fanfare for taking down the New England Patriots and Tom Brady, then they got blasted by the Denver Broncos last Sunday in a game that was truly never close.  Their defense remains an issue, no matter how talented Watson and the offense are.  As for the Tennessee Titans, QB Ryan Tannehill taking over has jumpstarted this team as they’re 6-1 since he took over as their starting quarterback.  Add RB Derrick Henry hitting his late season stride and this team is steamrolling even though the Titans defense still seems susceptible to big performance as they’ve not been tested for a few weeks till today.

Final Score
Houston Texans – 20
Tennessee Titans – 10