WHEN THE TEXANS HAVE THE BALL
Dating back to November of 2010, Houston has won three of its past four games against the AFC South, and in his past five matchups against Tennessee, quarterback Matt Schaub has completed 133-of-206 passes for 1,449 yards, 11 touchdowns and a 101.0 passer rating. In three road games this season, Schaub has completed 64-of-105 passes for 823 yards, six touchdowns and a 100.6 quarterback rating. In his past six contests against AFC South foes, running back Arian Foster is averaging 121.2 rushing yards per game with seven touchdowns. Foster aims for a fourth straight game with at least 100 scrimmage yards (166, 184, 101) as well. Wide receiver Kevin Walter had seven catches for 79 yards and a touchdown in Houston’s last meeting with the Titans, while fellow wideout Jacoby Jones had a 32-yard touchdown catch last week, his first of the season. Newly-acquired wide receiver Derrick Mason (940 career receptions) needs just one catch to surpass Hall of Famer Art Monk for 11th- most all-time, while tight end Owen Daniels has 415 career receiving yards against the Titans, his most against any team.
Cornerback Jason McCourty leads Tennessee in tackles with 39 and interceptions with two, while counterpart Cortland Finnegan registered his first interception of the season in his last game. Finnegan had a 99-yard return for a touchdown against the Texans in September of 2008 as well. Seventh-year veteran end Dave Ball’s 15 tackles and a sack leads the unit up front, while middle linebacker Barrett Ruud has 37 tackles to lead that group.
Houston is 14th in scoring (23.5 ppg), eighth in total offense (381.0 ypg), 11th in passing yards (254.8 ypg) and seventh in rushing yards (126.2 ypg), while Tennessee is sixth in scoring defense (18.8 ppg), ninth in total yards allowed (326.0 ypg), 12th in passing yards allowed (221.0 ppg) and 10th against the run (105.0 ypg).
WHEN THE TITANS HAVE THE BALL
Tennessee is 13-9 after a bye week and 7-2 all-time at home against the Texans, and is seeking a third consecutive win at LP Field this season. At home in 2011, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has completed 57-of-78 passes for 669 yards, three touchdowns and a 106.2 passer rating. He has a 90-plus passer rating in four of five games this season. For his career, running back Chris Johnson averages 91.7 rushing yards per game against the AFC South (1,652 in 18 games), and needs 28 scrimmage yards to reach 6,000 for his career. He’s rushed for 100-plus yards in three of his last four games against Houston (197, 151, 130) and averages 5.9 yards per carry versus the Texans for his career. Wide receiver Nate Washington had a touchdown catch in Tennessee’s last game against the Texans, while wideout Damian Williams aims for his third consecutive game with a scoring reception. Tight end Jared Cook is averaging 18.9 yards per catch this season.
Houston’s defense is tied with the New York Jets with an AFC-best 17 sacks. End Tim Jamison had a career-high two sacks last week. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph registered his third interception of the season in the Texans’ loss to Baltimore, while safety Glover Quin had a career-best three picks versus the Titans in November of 2010.
Tennessee is 20th in points scored (21.0 ppg), 19th in total offense (339.0 ypg), ninth in passing yards (272.4 ypg) and dead last in rushing (66.6 ypg). Houston is ninth in scoring defense (20.7 ppg), 10th in total yards allowed (328.7 ypg), 13th in pass defense (221.7 ypg) and 13th against the run (107.0 ypg).
KEYS TO THE GAME
Can Chris Johnson get back to normalcy after his 66.6-yard average over the first five games against a Houston team that’s 13th in the league against the run?
Finding a new source of big-play receptions for the injured Andre Johnson is a task for Kubiak and the Houston offense, though it’s been easier said than done.
Maintaining possession of the ball will be vital to the team that ultimately wins. For lack of a better tie-breaker, the team that limits mistakes will be in the best shape.
Prediction – The Texans are banged up, and last week they were not able to do enough in the end on the road to beat the Ravens. The Titans have had two weeks to stew over the bad loss to the Steelers, and they will have all intentions of getting after Matt Schaub. Look for Chris Johnson to have a big game, while the Texans will try the same with Arian Foster. This could turn into a defensive battle, and I like the Titans late to get a big South win. Tennessee 20 Houston 17