Week one is in the books and the Texans are 0-1. Not much went well last week against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, but there were a few positives to build upon heading into week two. How will Deshaun Watson and company respond to their week one loss? Let’s break it down.
Watson completed only half of his passes for under 200 yards against New England. Against the Titans, Watson will have to play quicker and smarter. Although the Patriots did a good job of pressuring Watson, the young signal-caller held the ball for too long and never got the offense into a consistent rhythm.
The Titans defense sacked Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill once and intercepted him twice in a loss last Sunday, and will look to disrupt Watson as well. In order for Watson to be successful this week, the running game needs to produce the way it did against the Patriots. Lamar Miller had 98 yards in the loss, but looked fresh after slimming down in the offseason. Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore had solid games against this Titans defense, so look for the Texans to run the offense through Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue once again.
The offensive line looked much improved compared to last season. Guards Zach Fulton and Senio Kelemete looked good next to center Nick Martin. The issue on this line is tackle play. Seantrel Henderson is out for the season, meaning rookie Martinas Rankin will be thrust into the starting lineup prematurely—he will also be moving Julien Davenport to the right side of the line after playing on the left exclusively in the preseason. Davenport and Rankin both have potential, but will need to mature fast if they are going to keep Watson on his feet. They will have their hands full this week with Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey—who had six tackles last week.
DeAndre Hopkins led the way for the Texans receivers with 78 yards, but will look to get going against the Titans. If Will Fuller returns to the lineup, Hopkins should see more single-coverage opportunities. If Fuller is still sidelined come Sunday, expect Bruce Ellington to get plenty of looks once again.
Depite giving up 27 points to the Patriots, the defense played a solid game overall. J.J Watt looked good in the second half, D.J Reader had two sacks and Tyrann Mathieu looked like a natural fit in the Texans defense. Safety Kareem Jackson had his best game as a Texan.
The Titans offense features a solid offensive line, however, left tackle Taylor Lewan may miss the game with a concussion. Additionally, star tight end Delanie Walker will miss the season with an ankle injury, and starting quarterback Marcus Mariota injured his elbow. If Mariota is unable to play, the Titans will start Blaine Gabber, whom the Texans are very familiar with after facing him twice per year when he was the Jaguars starting quarterback. Regardless of who is under center, the Texans will need to put more pressure on the quarterback than they were able to against the Patriots. Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt ended week one without a sack between them, and will look to shake off some rust against Tennessee this weekend.
Corey Davis vs Johnathan Joseph
Corey Davis is looking to establish himself as a true number one receiver for the Titans, and with his size, he might be able to take advantage of Joseph. The Texans secondary is down a man with Kevin Johnson heading to injured reserve, so keep an eye on how they perform.
DeAndre Hopkins vs Malcom Butler
Hopkins is one of the best receivers in the NFL and will look to find the endzone for the first time of 2018 against Tennessee. Butler is a very good corner, and will be tested by Hopkins all day.
Bill O’Brien vs Mike Vrabel
First year Titans head coach Mike Vrabel is getting his first shot at his former team this Sunday. After being the Texans defensive coordinator for one year, Vrabel is familiar with the Texans personnel—as well as their weaknesses. Look for Bill O’Brien and Romeo Crennel to show the Titans some exotic looks on defense to keep Vrabel off balance. Additionally, keep an eye on O’Brien’s decision making as a whole, as he made some questionable calls last week against the Patriots.
Prediction: Texans 27 Titans 17
I believe the Texans will come out with more energy this week. They cant afford to start the season off 0-2, and with the Titans dealing with injuries I think Houston has a slight advantage. I expect Watson to play better than he did last week, and I expect to see plenty of Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue. The Texan’s pass rushers will get going, and the Texans will head into their home opener 1-1.