By Jay Betsill
Houston Texans vs Tennessee Titans
Sunday – December 29 – 12:00 PM
LP Field – Nashville
The 2013 Houston Texans (2-13) season mercifully comes to an end this Sunday on the road against the Tennessee Titans (6-9). In last week’s home finale, a 37-13 loss against the Denver Broncos, the Texans provided the backdrop for Peyton Manning’s record-setting day before 71,761 fans at Reliant Stadium. Manning surpassed the 50 TD passes Tom Brady threw in 2007 and led the Broncos (12-3) to a 37-13 win over the Texans (2-13) that extended Houston’s franchise-record skid to 13 games.
“I personally think all season records are going down, especially if they go to 18 games,” said Manning, who threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns in Houston.” And there won’t be an asterisk next to them. Brady will probably break it again next year if not the year after.”
On the other hand, after seven seasons as the Texans starting quarterback, Matt Schaub likely played his last home game, going 18-for-37 for 176 yards in his first start since Week 6. After winning a franchise-best 12 games and its second consecutive AFC South title last season, Houston now is within striking distance of its franchise-worst 2-14 record from 2005.
“Nobody wants to be in this position, but we made our bed so we have to lay in it,” wide receiver Andre Johnson said. “Hopefully we can get a win Sunday so we don’t have to deal with this losing streak the whole offseason.” Johnson had four catches against Denver to reach 103 for the season, the fifth time in his career he has eclipsed 100 catches, tying the Broncos Wes Welker’s NFL record.
In their game last week, the Titans overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half and held Jacksonville (4-11) to 85 yards after halftime for a 20-16 road win. The Titans were paced by a strong ground attack led by Shonn Greene and Chris Johnson combining for 181 yards and their defense stopped Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew on a key fourth down to ensure their three-game losing streak would come to an end.
“We were down 10, playing on the road again, not playing as good in the first half as we had hoped, and all of a sudden this thing could have gone the other way,” Munchak said. “It didn’t. We’re not happy with this season. The best we could do is to finish out the season by beating two division teams. We got one today, finally, and we’ll be doing our best to get one at home next week.”
With last week’s Washington Redskins loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the Texans are not guaranteed the top pick. If the two teams both finish 3-13, Washington would get the top pick, which in turn would go to the St. Louis Rams as part of the deal that brought Robert Griffin III to the nation’s capital last season. Since everything else possible has gone wrong for Houston this season, it would make perfect sense for them to mess this up too and win this week against the Titans. However, with Titans coach Mike Munchak’s job on the line, look for Tennessee to win, 24-10.