The Tennessee Titans (6-5) will host the Houston Texans (5-6) Sunday with both teams trying to rebound from ugly losses last week. The Titans lost on the road 35-6 to the Bengals while the Texans fell 27-17 to the Browns.
The best news for the Titans is the expected return of Albert Haynesworth, who practiced Wednesday. If Albert can get on the field for 30 downs, it will be a huge boost for the struggling Titans defense.
Field: grass. Forecast: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm, with a high near 66°. SSW wind 15-20 mph, with gusts to 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%.
Houston scouting report:
- The Texans should be a much different team than the one the Titans faced earlier this season, primarily because of the return of Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson, who missed seven games with a knee injury. Houston is 3-1 with Johnson this year and was 2-5 without him.
- The good news for the Titans is that Matt Schaub should be the starting quarterback. The bad news is Sage Rosenfels will be ready to come off the bench if Schaub is injured or ineffective. Rosenfels has come off the bench twice before to nearly lead the Texans to come from behind wins against the Titans. I hope Schaub has just barely enough success to remain in the game.
Ron Dayne has taken over as the starting running back, replacing Ahman Green. Dayne is a big, downhill runner, who seems to improve as the season progresses. Houston coach Gary Kubiak blamed himself for not letting Dayne run more last week. Dayne will probably get a lot of carries Sunday, especially if it rains and/or if Haynesworth doesn't play or is still hampered by his hamstring.
Kevin Walter emerged as Houston's leading receiver in Johnson's absence. He's a possession receiver, complemented by deep threat Andre Davis. They each scored long touchdowns on the Titans in the first meeting this year. The second leading receiver is tight end Owen Daniels. He's played well against the Titans before but is on a bad streak now, losing fumbles two weeks in a row.
The Texans' o-line remains the same as the first game.
Houston has the league's sixth-best passing offense (256 ypg), they're 23rd in rushing (91 ypg), tenth in total offense (347 ypg) and tied for 13th in scoring (22.1 ppg).
- The secondary will have a completely different look from the first game this year. Houston's best DB, cornerback Dunta Robinson, is on IR. Free safety Von Hutchins has moved to one corner and rookie Fred Bennett is at the other. Former Raven and Giant Will Demps replaces Hutchins at free safety. Strong safety C.C. Brown is the only DB who will be in the same spot as the Week Seven game.
MLB DeMeco Ryans is having a great year and should get some strong Pro Bowl consideration. He and WLB Morlon Greenwood pair to do a great job on run defense and lead the team in tackles. It seems like Ryans always has a great game against the Titans.
The d-line is improving, most notably second-year DE Mario Williams and rookie DT Amobi Okoye.
The Texans are 17th in pass defense (215 ypg), 22nd against the run (119 ypg), 19th in total defense (334 ypg) and 25th in scoring (24 ppg).
- Inconsistency is a problem. Matt Turk had a horrific day punting and Kris Brown missed a field goal last week. The Texans do have a good return game.
Keys for the Titans:
- Convert third downs and finish off drives with touchdowns. Tennessee has had problems with both for much of the season. The Titans must hold on to the ball, which will probably be wet.
- Pressure Schaub and firm up the run defense. The return of Haynesworth will help tremendously in both categories.
Strong winds and rain, possibly heavy, should make passing difficult. The Texans would have an advantage if able to pass, but a contest of running the ball should favor the Titans if Haynesworth is able to play decently. In Week Seven, Tennessee outrushed Houston 155 yards to 39. Both teams have struggled with turnover problems this year. Let's hope the conditions aren't as bad as they were for the Steelers-Dolphins game Monday night.
Check out MVN's Texas-Sized Foortball, for their perspective on the Texans.